The Smith Recycling-sponsored Milton Keynes Lightning marked the end of their inaugural season in British Elite hockey in celebratory style last Sunday night at their annual Supporters Club Awards.
The event, held at the Jury’s Inn hotel, was an opportunity for fans, owners, players and support staff to reflect on the year and to offer thanks to all those who have played their part in guiding the Lightning to the end of their first season in the top-flight.
Following a rousing welcome by the assembled supporters, the night began with the presentation of player awards:
- Most improved player: Lewis Hook | Presented by MKL Commercial Manger Sarah-Jayne Smyth.
- Coaches award: Kevin King | Presented by Coach Pete Russell.
- Top scorer: Kevin King | Presented by Scott from team sponsor 123internet.
- Best defensive player: James Griffin | Presented by club owner Graham Moody.
- Most valued player: Kevin King | Presented by Aaron Mills from team sponsor AIB Security.
- Players player: Kevin King | Presented by assistant coach Blaz Emersic.
- Supporters Club player of the year: Kevin King | Presented by Supporters Club committee member Richard Wilmot.
- Club Person of the Year: Pete Russell | Presented by Supporters Club member Martin Boulton.
The end of the season also sees us say goodbye to team coach and director of hockey Pete Russell. Pete joined Lightning in 2015 and in his three years at the helm led the club to victory at last year’s play offs and EPL cup as well as runners up spot in the league. In thanks for his time at the club, Supporters Club Chairman Dave Bunyan presented Pete with a cut glass engraved decanter and his wife Katie a bouquet of flowers.
Also leaving at the end of the season is assistant coach and former player Blaz Emersic. The ultimate professional on and off of the ice, Blaz joined the club in 2011 and played for seven season before stepping off the ice to focus on coaching. Blaz was also presented with a cut glass engraved decanter by Dave Bunyan and his partner Sylvia received a bouquet of flowers.
The Supporters Club also showed their thanks to long-standing committee member Richard “Dubbsie” Wilmot who is stepping down after 12 seasons on the committee, helping out on match nights and behind the scenes.
After the presentations came the chance for supporters to grabs the spoils with the shirt auction and raffles. The Valterri Bottas, MKL jersey, signed by the driver himself during his recent training session with the team, ahead of the start of this year’s F1 season, was won by Christine.
Season ticket holder John Harden won the unique green Kyle Essery signed shirt and the black signed Mele shirt was won by match night helper Mel Goodall.
One very special addition to the night’s auction was the hockey stick coffee table. Made by fan and match night helper Louis Bestwick, the piece went to Scott Jones from 123internet after a nail biting run of bids compered by coach Russell the final bid reached a staggering £600. Many thanks to Louis who did a fantastic job in making the table and then donating it to the Supporters Club.
Article: MKL Supporters Club | Photo Credit: Tony Sargent