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Lightning look to build for the future

Head Coach of the Smith Recycling MK Lightning, Pete Russell, says work is already underway to ensure the club hits the ground running when they commence their inaugural Elite League season in September.

Lightning rounded off a fifteen season tenure in the English Premier League by winning the league Play Offs on Sunday – just two weeks after victory in the EPL Cup Final. The double win brings MKL’s trophy total to nine, making them the most successful club ever in the EPL.

The Elite League confirmed at the weekend that the maximum bench size next season will be set at 19 plus up to three British trained players born in 1994 or later. Head Coach Russell says work on shaping the team to face the challenges ahead.

“It can’t be all of the players going Elite, and they know that,” he told BBC 3 Counties radio on Monday. “I think the world of that dressing room, they gave me everything they had and they’re a great bunch of people. I want us all to enjoy our achievement this week – the guys really deserve a couple of days of fun!

“There are some big decisions to make. I’ve already made some but

Players view waiting for the presentations!

there are still some to be made. I met some of the players today, I’ll meet some more this week then I’m going away with GB. When I come back it’s full steam ahead to show what a good product we have here – what a great product we have, what a great team and great fanbase. It’s going to be a huge challenge, we know, but everyone’s got to start somewhere – and I think it’s exciting!”

Lightning enjoyed two dominant victories in Coventry last weekend, recovering from a deficit three times to beat Guildford Flames 8-3 in Saturday’s semi final. In Sunday’s grand final they faced EPL champions Telford Tigers and dominated from start to finish, enjoying a 7-2 final scoreline that saw team and supporters partying for hours afterwards.

“You don’t expect to win any game by that many, especially against the league champions,” continued Pete Russell. “They’re both top teams – to score 15 goals in the semi final and final, I don’t remember the last time that’s ever happened and it says something about the character of this team. The last three weeks have been massive, and we came good at the right time. It’s the most I’ve enjoyed coaching any team.”

Some two hundred supporters were at Planet Ice on Sunday evening to welcome home the team after their Coventry triumph, the players parading their two most recently won trophies on the ice then joining fans for celebrations and photographs. “The fans made the weekend”, said Coach Russell. “They were incredible – there were literally a few hundred back at the rink and I’ll never forget that.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about special moments like that, that you never forget. Memories like that stay with you forever.”

Keep an eye on the club website for all this summer’s signing news.