The latest addition to the Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning is US-born forward Eric Neiley.  The 26 year old Pennsylvania-born centreman, who can also play right wing, said his passion for ice hockey prompted a rethink on plans to retire, and he brings his experience to Milton Keynes for the 2018-19 season.

Eric was signed by the Sheffield Steelers last season as they worked to ensure they had adequate cover across the roster, Head Coach Paul Thompson citing him as their best player during the playoffs.  “He has grit.…scores goals in the dirty areas; he knows the places to go” commented Thompson.  He also played in three Continental Cup games for Sheffield.

Prior to his time with the Steelers, Neiley began last season with Adirondack Thunder, the ECHL affiliates of the NHL New Jersey Devils – Thunder acquiring his rights in a trade with Atlanta Gladiators.  Before that, he played four seasons at NCAA level for Dartmouth College; in his final year he was the only player in the country to lead his team in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and penalties.

Neiley also brings to the Lightning the experience gained in 138 hard-fought ECHL games (88 points total).

At the end of last season Eric decided to retire from hockey to take up a work opportunity back in his home country; but it seems that the lure of the sport was too strong – and Lightning Head Coach Doug McKay capitalised, persuading the forward to return to the sport with MKL.

“I was working full time and wasn’t enjoying myself. I kept having doubts about whether I stopped playing too soon,” said Eric. “It’s not something I want to regret later on in life so I thought about it and talked with my family and realised I want to keep playing.

“I enjoyed my time in the UK last year so I wanted to come back to the league. I have the support of my family and my fiancée, that allows me to keep living my dream.

“Doug and I had a great connection right away. He explained his experience and the opportunity available in Milton Keynes. It’s an up and coming team in the league and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Eric Neiley’s warm up, home and away jerseys are now available on our Own and Loan Scheme which sees your name on the back of his jersey for the season.  The match-worn jersey is then presented to you by the player at the end of the 2018-19 season, a unique memento of your favourite player’s performances in the Elite League!  For full details and to apply, email

For an unusual but cost-effective way to promote your business, join the Lightning as Eric Neiley’s corporate sponsor. This package includes your business logo on the player’s jersey and announced at the start of every game he plays, as well as every time he scores a goal or assist during a match.  Contact our Commercial Manager Sarah Jane Smyth for information by emailing