MK Lightning to drop out of Elite League

(PHOTO: Milton Keynes Lightning)

Milton Keynes Lightning will drop out of the Elite League at the end of the season and join the new-look National Ice Hockey League.

The EIHA announced recently that a new league will sit above the existing NIHL Division 1 North and South, effectively succeeding the Premier League which was disbanded in 2017.

That led to the Lightning stepping up to the Elite League, one of two teams to do so alongside Guildford Flames, but they have struggled on and off the ice.

They finished 11th last season and coach Peter Russell departed, and then after a poor start to this season, Russell’s replacement Doug McKay left citing personal reasons.

Graham Moody, owner of the Lightning, said: “I’m very excited and optimistic about the Lightning competing in this new league.  It’s going to be a combination of clubs who have faced each other previously and some who haven’t, in teams comprising a majority of British talent and two imports. Some old rivalries will be revived – and new ones formed!

“We appreciate that some of our supporters would have preferred us to retain Elite status. However the long-term financial viability of the Lightning franchise is incredibly important to us – and it became unsustainable to compete at that level. Milton Keynes is a hockey town and we are determined to maintain senior hockey here.

“Nobody wanted this season to be more successful, than we did. We acknowledge that mistakes were made – but it would have been a bigger mistake to try and continue in the Elite League before strengthening the already solid foundations with extra sponsorship agreements and higher attendances first.

“Joining the new National Ice Hockey League means we will be able to compete sustainably again and put a genuinely competitive team onto the ice for our fans.”

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