Milton Keynes Lightning
|Milton Keynes Lightning|
|City||Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire|
|Home arena||SkyDome Arena (Temporary Relocation)|
|Colors||White, Black & Gold
|Owner(s)|| Harry Howton
|Head coach||Nick Poole|
|Affiliates||Milton Keynes Thunder|
|1990–1996||Milton Keynes Kings|
|1998–2002||Milton Keynes Kings|
|2002–Present||Milton Keynes Lightning|
|Regular season titles||3 (03/04, 04/05 & 09/10)|
|Playoff championships||4 (02/03, 03/04, 04/05 & 05/06)|
The Milton Keynes Lightning are a semi-professional ice hockey team from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, currently playing in the EPIHL. The team was founded in 2002 to replace the now defunct Milton Keynes Kings. Their home arena is Planet Ice Milton Keynes, an ice rink to the south of Milton Keynes Central railway station. It has a capacity of around 2,200.
- 1 Club history
- 2 Club honours
- 3 Arena redevelopment
- 4 Club roster 2013/2014
- 5 Season-by-season record
- 6 Associated teams
- 7 External links
- 8 References
Founded in 2002, MK Lightning moved into the empty space left by the departure of Milton Keynes Kings. The MK Kings were involved in a dispute with rink owners Planet Ice, which led to the Kings re-locating to Solihull in May 2002. There they became the Solihull MK Kings for just one season before winding up in April 2003.
2002–2006: Early Years
The demise of the Ice Hockey Superleague and the British National League in 2002/03 led to major restructuring of the Ice Hockey leagues in the United Kingdom. The new Milton Keynes Lightning became a founding member of the new Elite Ice Hockey League but instead chose to compete in the English Premier Ice Hockey League. The first Lightning squad was made up mainly of local players but with 3 Canadian imports; Nick Poole(Head Coach), Claude Dumas & Dwayne Newman. Lightning finished their maiden season in 2nd place just behind the Peterborough Phantoms. The 2 teams met again in the playoff final, this time Lightning came out winners. A rivalry quickly grew between the Phantoms and Lightning as the two continued to dominate EPL Ice Hockey, MK gained the edge and were crowned league champions in the 03/04 & 04/05 seasons as well as continuing to dominate the Playoffs until 2006.
2006–2008: League Struggle
The 2006/07 season saw Lightning struggle in the league for the first time. A lack of investment in new players made MK's tactics & style become predictable and the rest of the EPL caught up. Lightning ended the season in 5th place and were eliminated from the Playoffs in the first round. The 07/08 season saw Lightning sink further to their lowest league finish of 6th, the management announced a major roster overhaul would take place over the summer.
2008–2010: Return to Success
As promised, Nick Poole and the team owners built a new-look Lightning squad for the 08/09 season. They were quick to add several experienced ex-Elite League players, young British talent & exciting European imports in Lukas Zatopek, Andre Smulter & Joakim Wiklander. After a slow start MK dominated the 2nd half of the season and finished runners-up behind rivals Peterborough. They then met again in the playoff final at the SkyDome Arena but once again lost to the Phantoms.
Lightning became the team to beat in 2009/10 despite Basingstoke Bison & Manchester Phoenix joining the EPL with large budgets to spend. More exciting signings in local star Leigh Jamieson & Swedish U20 international Monir Kalgoum helped MK to dominate the league from start to finish. A home win against the Swindon Wildcats in March 2010 saw the EPL league trophy return to Planet Ice.
2011–2012: Playoff final and near-misses
Lightning had an up-and-down 2010–2011 season, finishing 5th in the league but managing to reach the playoff final, setting up a tie with league runners-up Guildford Flames. Lightning lost to the Flames in the final after a 5–3 game.
The 2011–2012 season was no better for Lightning, as they finished the regular season 5th, having led the league by December. Lightning's second-half season performances dropped and Lightning failed to make it past the playoff quarter finals after losing to eventual winners Slough Jets 11–10 on aggregate, after winning 7–4 in the home leg but losing 7–3 in OT at Slough.
Lightning started the pre-season with a number player re-signing with the club, including Player/Coach Nick Poole along with other imports Blaz Emersic and Lukas Zatopek. Lightning also bolstered their forwards with the signing of the Welsh veteran winger Nick Chinn and Canadian Adam Calder. Long-serving goaltender Barry Hollyhead announced his retirement and was replaced by former Basingstoke Bison Stephen Wall.
Early in the season, Adam Calder suffered a horrific hip injury and was place on Injured Reserve, being replaced by Czech forward Kamil Tvrdek. Tvrdek established himself as a strong fan favourite and has became one of Lightning's most prolific scorers in the 12/13 season.
Lightning fans were shocked in January of the 12/13 season when fan favourite and long-time player/coach Nick Poole decided to hang up his skates with immediate effect. Finnish forward Janne Jokila, a former 7th Round NHL Draft selection, was brought in to replace Poole and had an immediate impact, registering 9 points in his first 5 games and finishing the season with 24 points from 19 total games played.
Lightning finished the 2012/2013 regular season in 4th place, securing playoff hockey for the team once again. The team overcame the Slough Jets in a nail-biting Quarter-final series that saw Lightning claim revenge on the team after losing to them in the same round just one year prior. Lightning faced the league and cup champions Guildford Flames in the semi-finals, with the Flames aiming to secure a historic Treble. Unfortunately Lightning were unable to overcome the Flames and eventually lost 3–2 to the eventual runners up of the playoffs, with Manchester Phoenix claiming victory the very next day.
For the 13/14 season, Lightning will play their home games in Coventry's Sky Dome due to a high-profile redevelopment of The Thunderdome. The team hopes the return to Milton Keynes for the 2014/2015 season with a fresh new arena for fans to enjoy.
The team's pre-season was filled with a number of player movements. Leigh Jamieson, Lewis Christie, Michael Farn and team captain Adam Carr remain with the teams, having signed an unusual 2-year contract with the team before the 12/13 season. Popular imports Blaz Emersic and Janne Jokila re-signed with the team and a controversial release of fan favourite Kamil Tvrdek was made with Tvrdek later joining Bracknell Bees along with Chris Wiggins who also left the team, citing the travelling distance to Coventry as the main factor.
Nicky Chinn also left the team, reportedly returning to Basingstoke Bison and was replaced by Tom Carlon from Peterborough Phantoms. Goaltender Stephen Wall re-signed with the team having put in a number of top-class performances throughout the season and playoffs, leading to former starter Alex Mettam leaving the team to earn the starting spot for Bracknell Bees.
Long-serving forward Ross Bowers also re-signed for the team in June, hoping to focus on a return to scoring ways rather than serving as a grinder-style player over the last two seasons.
- EPIHL League: 3
- Winner (3): 2004, 2005, 2010
- EPIHL Playoffs: 4
- Winner (4): 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- Runner-up (2): 2009, 2010
- EPIHL Cup: 0
- Runner-up (2): 2007, 2008
In March 2013, Milton Keynes Council approved plans to redevelop the Leisure Plaza and Planet Ice after failed attempts in 2006 & 2011. The development of the arena is being funded by Morrisons Supermarkets and will take an estimated 12 – 15 months to complete. This will force Lightning to play their home games at the Coventry Sky Dome during the 2013/2014 season, with hopes the team can return to the redeveloped arena for the 2014/2015 season.
Club roster 2013/2014
|No.||Nat.||Player||Catches||Date of birth||Place of birth||Acquired|
|1||Jordan Hedley||R||7 August 1996||Walsall, England||2012|
|93||Stephen Wall||R||12 February 1981||North Shields, England||2012|
|No.||Nat.||Player||Shoots||Date of birth||Place of birth||Acquired|
|5||Ben Russell||R||24 March 1994||London, England||2013|
|21||Ross Green||R||19 February 1992||Chelmsford, England||2008|
|55||Michael Farn||L||23 June 1988||Durham, England||2009|
|66||Lewis Christie||R||30 August 1989||Edinburgh, Scotland||2008|
|78||Lukas Zatopek||L||2 February 1978||Havirov, Czech Republic||2008|
|No.||Nat.||Player||Shoots||Date of birth||Place of birth||Acquired|
|7||Josh Nicklin (2-Way w/ Coventry Blaze ENL)||R||27 February 1992||Bedford, England||2013|
|8||Blaz Emersic||L||10 October 1980||Ljubljana, Slovenia||2010|
|9||Grant McPherson||R||3 March 1987||Stirling, Scotland||2006|
|10||Connor Goode||?||2 November 1993||Milton Keynes, England||2012|
|12||Janne Jokila||R||22 April 1982||Turku, Finland||2013|
|14||Jordan Cownie||L||1 August 1995||Dundee, Scotland||2013|
|17||Stanislav Lascek||L||17 January 1986||Martin, Slovakia||2013|
|18||Adam Carr||R||15 June 1984||Durham, England||2003|
|19||Leigh Jamieson||R||30 July 1985||Milton Keynes, England||2008|
|23||Tom Carlon||R||18 February 1987||Telford, England||2013|
|61||Ross Bowers||R||30 July 1985||Luton, England||2011|
|91||Nick Poole (Injury Cover)||R||11 July 1973||Calgary, Canada||2002|
|EPIHL Playoff Champions