Milton Keynes Lightning The Official Web Site – Milton Keynes Lightning

History

History

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 then became the Solihull MK Kings for just one season before winding up in April 2003.

2002 – 2006: The 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 & former 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.

2012 – 2013

Lightning started the pre-season with a number of players 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 for the Columbus Blue Jackets, 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.

2013 – 2014: On The Road For Every Game

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, citing the travelling distance to Coventry as the main factor.
Nicky Chinn was another who left, returning to Basingstoke Bison and replaced by Tom Carlon from Peterborough Phantoms on a 2-year contract. 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.

2015–2016: Management Change, Coventry Blaze Partnership & The Elite League

At the end of the 2014/2015 season it was announced to the surprise of the fans and players that head coach Nick Poole would take over the duties of General Manager from Vito Rausa and be replaced by Team GB coach Peter Russell. This was shortly followed by the announcement in May 2015 that Milton Keynes Lightning would be forming a partnership with Elite League side the Coventry Blaze. The 2015/16 season also saw a change from the traditional white, black, and gold colours to a white, black, and blue combination which reflected the sponsorship of local company Smith Recycling. Despite a promising start, the season ended with MKL managing just a slight improvement on their previous years final position, finishing 5th. Lightning went on to qualify for the Play Off final, losing to Guildford Flames 6-2. At the end of the season it was also announced that from the start of the 2017-2018 season, Milton Keynes Lightning would play in the Elite Ice Hockey League.