By Paul Brookman
The Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning will be looking to get even with Coventry Blaze when the two rivals meet for their final pre-season challenge game at the Planet Ice MK Arena on Wednesday – face off 7.45pm.
Danny Stewart’s Blaze edged out Lightning 6-5 at the Skydome last Wednesday so Doug McKay’s men will be hoping to turn that around. It will be McKay’s first game in charge at the city arena.
Like Lightning it was a mixed weekend for Coventry in their challenge matches against Gothiques D’Amiens who finished fourth in the French Ligue Magnus last season. Both games were at the Skydome with the visitors taking the first game 4-3 and Blaze the second 4-2.
Stewart has rung the changes at Blaze over the summer with 13 newcomers to the roster – some of whom will be familiar to Lightning fans. Goalies Miika Wiikman and Jordan Hedley plus forward Alex Forbes have moved 50 miles up the road with netminder Adam Goss going in the opposite direction.
Blaze suffered a shock on the eve of the weekend’s games when popular forward Danick Paquette announced he would not be returning to the club for the new season. His arrival had been delayed by visa problems but having been granted one he informed Stewart he would be unable to fulfil his contract for personal reasons.
Paquette has since signed for Jonquière Marquis of the North American League.
At the time of writing Lightning were still awaiting visa clearance to allow Canadian defenceman Nelson Armstrong to join the squad.
At the weekend Cole Shudra filled the gap on the blue line – evoking memories of his father ‘Rocket Ron’ who starred in defence for Sheffield Steelers for many years.
Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Planet Ice MK Arena, online at mk-lightning.co.uk/tickets or phone 01908 540020. Fans are reminded that season tickets are not valid for Wednesday’s game But those seats can be purchased by their owners until 90 minutes before face off.