It was a first winless weekend of the season for Manchester Phoenix as they were cruelly denied victory in a dramatic finish at the Altrincham Ice Dome on Sunday.
After a 4-1 defeat at Basingstoke on Saturday, the two locked horns again with Bison blowing the Premier League title race wide open after an overtime victory.
Phoenix, riled from their second defeat against Basingstoke this season, started the game strongly and aggressively, and the crowd were soon right behind their team following a couple of early big hits.
League top scorer Marcus Kristoffersson fired the home side in front, but they were pegged back against the run of play by the end of the first period, when Basingstoke scored on the wrap-around.
Manchester, wearing special shirts to raise money for Children in Need, looked comfortable in the second period and re-took the lead when Kristoffersson lashed home on the powerplay, after neat work by Tony Hand in the blue zone.
But despite being in command for much of the game, the night turned to disaster for Phoenix in the space of a minute to leave the home fans shell-shocked.
With just 20 seconds on the clock, and victory seemingly likely, Bison grabbed a shorthanded equaliser as Phoenix defenceman Pavel Gomeniuk diverted the puck in to his own net after a shot bounced up off ‘keeper Stephen Fone to force overtime.
And just as Phoenix were overcoming the shock at having the win snatched from their grasp, they were forced to settle for just one point when Ondrej Lauko struck on the counter attack, firing home at the near post to leave Phoenix stunned.
Defeat for Manchester means their grip on the top of the Premier League has been significantly loosened, with Guildford, Slough and Basingstoke all breathing down their necks, setting up a crucial table-topping clash in Guildford on Saturday before Phoenix host Peterborough for the first time this season on Sunday (5:30 face-off).