PREVIEW: MK Lightning v Edinburgh Capitals

This Thursday evening it’s half term heaven for hockey lovers in Milton Keynes as the Smith Recycling MK Lightning host the team they beat last Sunday – Edinburgh Capitals (Planet Ice MK Arena, 7.45pm 26 October).

With no school the following day, you can make it a family evening out and put those hockey withdrawal  symptoms to rest after no home match for Coach Russell’s side last weekend.

Thursday’s opposition are the Edinburgh Capitals; they come to Milton Keynes looking to reverse the 5-2 defeat inflicted on them by MKL at Murrayfield on Sunday. But with the road game hoodoo broken after Sunday’s win, Lightning’s only aim will be to pick up kore points and consolidate our league position.

Coach Russell’s side sit ninth in the league after 10 fixtures played; they remain unbeaten at home in front of fiercely partisan support but injuries and stuttering road form have had an impact on the team’s league standing. Captain Kevin King and Guillaume Doucet, Man of the Match for two of MKL’s three Scottish road games last weekend, are the team’s top league goal scorers whilst Denny Kearney and Paul Phillips have proven real playmakers, leading the way with assists.

Last weekend’s workload of three games in three days would have been a big ask for any team, combined with nearly 1,000 miles of travelling involved in the weekend – and that was just the start of an incredibly tough schedule with 6 games in only 10 days, four of those being away from home.

Both last Friday and Saturday – against Fife and Braehead respectively – saw MKL battle back from a deficit to equalise, only losing by a single goal each night.

Coach Russell rallied the troops and on Sunday night their effort was rewarded with an emphatic 5-2 road win at Murrayfield against tonight’s opponents, Edinburgh Capitals.

And all weekend, despite the distances involved, Lightning’s band of travelling supporters has attracted favourable comments from their hosts for their noise and spirit – rewarded with a photo call after the win with Pete Russell and his players!

Edinburgh are rooted to the foot of the table but have played just 7 league fixtures, fewer than most other sides. Russian forward Sergei Banashkov remains the side’s leading scorer and Canada’s Mike Cazzola leads the way on assists, just ahead of Igor Valeyev. Head Coach Dmitri Kristich says he knows that to make progress, his side need to work on power plays and defending in front of their own net.

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