Sheffield Steeldogs slumped to back to back defeats last weekend.
They nosedived 5-3 at Basingstoke Bison before slumping 3-4 to MK Lightning.
On Saturday, Bison made the better start and were two goals up inside five minutes.
Once the Dogs got their three lines of forwards rolling, they created chances and the hard skating of player/coach Greg Wood gave Liam Charnock the perfect pass to beat Hiadlovsky. Lackey restored the two goal lead for the home side but Ben Morgan created a chance that Liam Kirk despatched to put them in touching distance after 20 minutes.
Pavel Mrna was playing his first game back after suspension and at 31.13 he scored a stunning goal after deking his way past half the Bison. Jarabek beat Hadfield through a crowd to put Doug Sheppard's team back in front.
Sheffield kept chasing but the Bison had more of the possession and Karpov's second goal of the game in the 56th minute secured the points. Outshot by 38 to 22, Sheffield were outplayed but playing with line combinations that have had limited time together, they showed flashes of what is surely to come.
Milton Keynes Lightning will be playing the Steelers by this time next year but on Sunday the Steeldogs had to take on the challenge of a line-up that is already featuring players who will surely be playing in the Elite League next season.
MK came out fast, looking to assert their superiority but the Dogs weathered the early storm and when they got a power play, Mrna fed Hirst to open the scoring.
MK kept coming in waves and took the lead in a two minute spell with goals from Scott and Bakrlik but Mrna again was key to the Sheffield attack, in the right time at the right place to score on a great pass from Cole Shudra.
The pace dropped a little in the middle period. Bakrlik broke the deadlock on a power play but the Steeldogs found a second wind as Mrna completed a beautiful passing sequence to score short-handed and on the next shift they thought they’d taken the lead but the goal was washed out.
The scores remained level until 57.29 when a puck deflected off an official created an odd man rush that Adam Carr scored on. Hadfield was pulled for the extra attacker but the Dogs couldn’t find a late goal.
Steeldogs defenceman Tim Smith said after MK defeat: "It’s always horrible to lose in the way that we did.
"MK are stacked full of talent and always making improvements. They are a team who like to play on the puck, they are polar opposites to Basingstoke who dump it in the corners and bang the bodies. For 58 minutes tonight we have competed and kept in the game. We matched the Lightning every step of the way.
“As a team I think we have to tighten up a bit. On the fourth goal we felt we had an unlucky bounce but that’s hockey. We have to get on with it and come back fighting next weekend. We can see we have areas to work on. We have great guys in the locker room who are 17 and 18, some guys who are 21 and it’s going to take time, it’s not going to be built overnight. But you can see the steps we are taking moving forward on and off the ice.
“We had our returning imports back this weekend and you can just see the quality they add to the team.
"Palak is still a few games away from being fully fit and Kumeliauskas is getting better game by game. The dynamics of the team change completely, we’ll be getting those loose pucks that we haven’t got recently, we’ll be creating more offence. There’s so much talent that people haven’t really had the chance to see and it’s coming up to November.
“Woody is encouraging everyone to go out and play, be confident on the puck, it’s breeding into all of us.
"Over the next few weeks you’ll see a lot more of us playing the puck, playing in the manner that Milton Keynes have played. In comparison to other seasons we are playing much better hockey. It’s better hockey for people to watch and although we are not having fisticuffs every week you are still getting great entertainment and great value”.
Next weekend the Steeldogs travel to Milton Keynes before a Sunday evening game at iceSheffield against the Swindon Wildcats (5.30 face-off).