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Academy: Thunder progress acknowledged by peers in awards

The success of the overhauled coaching set-up at MK Thunder has been recognised this week with no fewer than three team members included in the ProHockeyNews.com NIHL South awards 2014-15.

Thunder now operates as part of the MK Ice Hockey Academy – launched last summer to provide a progression path and continuity of coaching for all involved in the game locally.

The awards are especially significant as they are voted for by coaches and players within the game itself. Panellists are not allowed to vote for anyone from their own team. ProHockeyNews.com covers ice hockey news from around the world, and this season marks the site’s fifth annual awards.

Paul Gore took the award for NIHL South Coach of the Year, cited as a popular choice for the honour – special mention going to bench coach Steve Whyte.

In the NIHL South All Star line up, Damien King took the award for first line netminder. A 92% save average did not put him top of the standings but given he faced more than double the shots of any those above him (1338 in 36 games) his contribution was said to be ‘priceless’.

In the line 2 category Jamie Line was included in the NIHL South forwards after a season where his speed proved “a revelation” for Thunder.

MK Thunder General Manager, Dave Fairhurst, said:

“The team has made real progress this season, with a new coaching set up and as part of the Academy. We improved on our finishing position last season and we’re into the playoff semi finals. Also the experience that Ed Knaggs, Nidal Philips, Alex Whyte and Conor Goode have gained from playing up with Lightning has been invaluable for us.

“We’re looking forward to next season already and making even more progress to give the top teams something to really think about!”

Thunder have their playoff semi final first leg this Saturday (11 April) at 4.15pm at the MK Arena when they take on Invicta Dynamos. Adult tickets are just £3 and kids go free. However adults purchasing a ticket for Adam Carr’s testimonial – which follows at 7.30pm – can see the Thunder playoff game free of charge.