The Smith Recycling Milton Keynes Lightning have today confirmed that Head Coach Peter Russell will leave by mutual consent at the end of the 2017/18 season.
The news of Russell’s departure comes a matter of days after the Nottingham Panthers confirmed the departure of Head Coach Corey Neilson.
During his three seasons with the Lightning, Russell enjoyed success in the English Premier League, taking Milton Keynes to League, Cup and Play Off tournament success, and has led the club through its inaugural season in the EIHL.
After reviewing the current season earlier this week, owners Monica and Graham Moody together with Russell mutually agreed to part company at the end of the current campaign.
Russel reflected on his time with the Lightning: “I’ll leave Milton Keynes with some very special memories that will stay with me – and my family, too. It’s been three very eventful years and I wouldn’t change a thing, because every challenge we faced made me a stronger person and coach.
“From doing the double last season, some of the unreal home results this season and of course qualifying for the last 8 of the Challenge Cup, to the injuries and suspensions that have hit us hard. The fans have backed the club, players and me through all of it, and that means a massive amount to all of us – thank you.
“I want to thank Mike Petrouis for bringing me here in the first place and also to John Neville, Sarah-Jane Smyth, Blaz Emersic, Micky Kemp and all the Planet Ice staff who’ve been brilliant to me and my family. A huge thanks to Dave Bunyan and the Supporters’ Club whose backing is so special at Lightning and a vital part of its success.
“Then, of course, a huge thank you to the best fans in this league bar none: the MKL Barmy Army, you were the reason I stayed here this season and you take people into your hearts. The very special MKL Away Day Army travel up and down the entire country in rain, hail or snow. You’re fantastic and you’ve left me with some amazing memories that I will never forget.
“Finally, I can only wish this club nothing but the very best, from the bottom of my heart. Monica and Graham Moody have big hearts and love this great sport. They are here for the long haul and I wish them every success in achieving their dreams. We will meet another day.”
Lightning owners Graham and Monica Moody expanded further on the decision: “We can assure you that from what we have seen of Pete during this season, his ambition and drive will see him thrive and succeed in any future endeavours. His teams play an exciting style of hockey – and win or lose, he makes your heart pump with excitement. For everything he has brought to this game and this team we are sincerely thankful.
“We will continue to work together in the final push for the play offs. Everyone will be giving everything right until the end. Anyone who knows Pete understands how much passion and desire he has for this club and that will never stop.
“Ice hockey is a small world and we surely will cross paths again, but for now we wish him and his family the very best.”