Preview: MK Lightning vs Dundee Stars (30 Sept)
By Paul Brookman
Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning will be aiming to secure maximum points this weekend after the disappointment of their last two outings.
Dundee Stars will be the first of the trio of Scottish teams to visit Planet Ice when they line-up on Sunday for an Elite League clash facing off at 5.15pm – 24 hours after Lightning’s road encounter at Manchester Storm.
It’s been a summer of change for the Stars who won the British National League in their first season in 2001-2002 with a certain Tony Hand in the ranks – indeed he is still the franchise’s all-time points per season record holder. Of course hockey goes back a lot longer than that in the Scottish city – Dundee Tigers were the formed in 1938 and lasted until 1955, Dundee Rockets followed, being formed in 1963 and shutting up shop in 1987 as a second Tigers organisation was started, playing in various leagues.
Tigers have played in the Scottish League since 2000 – a year before Stars came into existence. Stars joined the Elite League in 2010-2011 and it’s fair to say they have experienced mixed fortunes ever since. Last season, like Lightning, they failed to make the play-offs – for the third time in eight years.
Head coach Omar Pacha has rung the changes in the close season with ten players leaving the club – including last year’s top scorer Gabriel Lévesque who transferred to Jonquière Marquis of the Quebec based North American League.
The leavers have been replaced by 13 newcomers – among them Matt Bissonette whose name may be familiar as he was in the Manchester Storm line-up that took on Lightning – then in the English Premier League – in a challenge match in March 2017. He started last season with Manchester and then had a spell at Belfast Giants before going to French Ligue Magnus side, Epinal.
Bissonette is renewing acquaintance with Pacha who was Storm’s coach until switching to Dundee last year. He also teams up with an old Lightning favourite, Jordan Cownie, a native of Dundee who joined Stars as Lightning made the switch to the top level of British hockey.
It’s early days to forecast how Stars will fare this campaign but so far their fortunes have been mixed – last weekend they lost in a shoot out to Manchester after coming away with maximum points the previous weekend in two clashes with old rivals, Fife Flyers.
Don’t forget Sunday’s face off is at the family friendly time of 5.15pm. Buy your tickets on the door or in advance at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets. Alternatively call us on 01908 540020.
If you fancy making the trip to Altrincham on Saturday for the game against Storm the face off time is 7pm. You will be in good company as the MKL Supporters Club is running a coach to the game.