By Lucy Hamilton
This Saturday 16th September will see the Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning prepare for battle against some new rivals from north of the boarder. The Braehead Clan visit the MK Arena for a 7pm face off.
The Clan are fresh from their Scottish Elite Cup win against the Fife Flyers just last weekend. With their Head Coach John Tripp saying how impressed he was with his team, their attitudes and their chemistry, this might prove a tough game for the Lightning.
Last year, the Clan found themselves finishing the season in fifth place with a respectable 57 points. Over the summer, with a number of changes happening, the Clan looked to make themselves a stronger and more resilient side. The signing of Jacob Doty, a solid centreman from the NHL’s St Louis Blues and who played with their affiliate teams the Chicago Wolves in the AHL and the Missouri Mavericks in the ECHL, Doty looked set to make a big impression for the Glasgow side.
The Clan also have the services of a familiar name for fans who have been around the Lightning for a long time. Craig Peacock who started his career in the UK with the likes of the Peterborough Phantoms and the Basingstoke Bison before taking the next big step in his career by moving to be a part of the Belfast Giants team in 2009. Peacock remained there for seven seasons as well as making appearances for and representing his country.
Last weekend saw the Lightning enter the Elite League for the first time with a pair of games against last year’s league champions and runners up respectively.
On Saturday night, MKL made the long journey to South Wales to face the Cardiff Devils. With the Devils just coming back from a hard battle in the CHL, it was unclear what was to come. In true Lightning style, the team came out flying and were the first to hit the back of the net with new signing Ashley Tait assisting Paul Phillips. The Devils answered back mere minutes later and continued to show their strength through the game. The Lightning never gave up hope, though, and later got the puck to the back of the net courtesy of Christian Isackson. The game resulted in a 5-2 loss to the reigning champs, but the travelling support still came away with smiles on their faces and optimism in their hearts.
The following night, the Lightning played host to the Belfast Giants. After just two minutes, the home side tallied first with thanks to Kevin Gibson and huge cheers that threatened to lift the roof off the MK Arena! Four minutes later, the home side doubled their efforts with a strike from captain Kevin King. The Giants managed to break before the first period ended. The hosts continued our dominance of the well-established Elite League side with another three goals to add to their total so far in the next twenty minutes. In the final frame, the Lightning slowed down the pace but still managed to fight off the Giants bravely and valiantly. With two goals apiece from Lewis Hook and Guillaume Doucet, the Lightning sent the Giants side packing with a comfortable and impressive 6-3 win.
With the Lightning looking set to carry on their inspiring start and the Clan wanting to continue their hunt for silverware, Saturday could very well prove to be an interesting and exciting night indeed.