2018-19 NIHL South 1 Lineup Confirmed

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Roster

Officials from member clubs and the LMC met this weekend in Sheffield and Newbury to agree the format of competition for NIHL in season 2018-19.

After the discussions the LMC are pleased to announce the following arrangements have been agreed by the clubs.

NIHL SOUTH 1 (Britton)
No club has been promoted from Division 2, therefore the league membership remains unchanged from last season: Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Cardiff Fire, Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Milton Keynes Thunder, Peterborough Phantoms, Streatham IHC, Swindon Wildcats.

Clubs will play two home and two away against each other in the league.

PLAYOFFS – Division 1
The discussions at both league meetings confirmed that Division 1 clubs are happy with the format for post season play. This will continue in 18-19. The top eight teams in each division will play two-legged quarter finals, progressing to semi finals and final.

The two regional finalists in each league will qualify for the Final Four weekend which will once again take place in Coventry. The date of Coventry 2019 will be confirmed and announced later in the summer.

CUP COMPETITIONS
The National Cup and Autumn Cup will not be continued in their current form. Discussions on interleague cup competitions will continue for future seasons. For 18-19 the North and South will run separate cup competitions for Division 1.

In the South there will be seven teams in the Cup, namely Basingstoke, Swindon, Peterborough, Streatham, Invicta, London and Bracknell. These clubs will play one home and one away against the other six teams in the Cup. The top four sides will qualify for two-legged semi final. The Final will also be over two legs.

RULES OF COMPETITION
From the 18-19 season, automatic promotion and relegation between Division 1 and Division 2 has been scrapped. Moving between divisions in either direction will now be by application to the LMC.

The clubs have agreed in principle to the videoing of all NIHL 1 games to a minimum standard. This will assist with referee training and development as well as disciplinary decisions.

League manager Richard Carpenter said: “It was a long weekend but once again very much worthwhile to see all NIHL clubs and discuss issues face to face.

“The league has come a long way in the last 12 months and we look forward to the new campaign starting in September.”

England Under 19 Defender Ollie Lord re-signs with MK Thunder

England Under 19 international Ollie Lord will return to MK Thunder for the 2018-19 NIHL campaign for his second season of men’s ice hockey.

D-man Lord dressed in 16 games for MKT last season along with captaining Coventry Under 18s and helping guide Coventry Under 20’s to a national title.

“Lordy is a great kid,” said MK Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford. “He is quiet most of the time but the boys speak highly of him and his contribution in the room. For a young lad who came into the team from outside he slotted in completely seamlessly into the way our team works.”

The 17-year-old has agreed to a two-way deal that will see him gain extra training and game time at youth level with his hometown Coventry Blaze on days when Thunder are not in action.

“I’m keen for young guys to play as much hockey as they can,” Clifford said. “Last year Lordy’s ice time was limited but he got the best of both worlds being able to log big minutes with both the 18s and 20s in Coventry.

“This year I am bringing him back to play a much more prominent role on the team and I want him to be available for all of our games. I’m more than happy for him to play age group games in Coventry when we don’t have a game as that abundance of ice time will continue to aid his development and fulfil his undoubtedly huge potential.

“Next season Lordy will be a regular player on our blue line. As we build our team to be younger, faster and more hungry he will come into his own. He has a very wise head on young shoulders and a high hockey IQ which helps him control plays despite his small stature.

“He was high on my priority list as soon as last season finished, but having seen the recent U20’s national final on TV it just reaffirmed to me just how good he is and how comfortable he is on the puck and I can’t wait to work with him again next season and see him take the next step in his career.”

While most of his teammates are already focusing solely on off-season conditioning in preparation for Thunder’s second year in the second-flight of British ice hockey, Lord has yet to close the book on his 2017-18 season.

After last weekend’s U20 national final, this week Lord was named in Ian Pound’s squad for the upcoming annual England U19 vs Scotland U19 game in Sheffield on May 25.

“Last year was a brilliant opportunity for me as I hadn’t played at a level like that before, it was a huge step up and I learnt a lot from the guys in the room and on the ice. Its a lot faster game so after a year of being there I now know what I need to play like in this league.

“The national final was great to be a part of as it’s what you work for all season I definitely learnt a lot from it because it’s a big game so you have to do all you can to win.”

Lord is excited to continue his development with Thunder and reserved special praise for Clifford and the veteran core in the MKT dressing room when reflecting on his maiden season of men’s hockey.

“I wanted to resign with Cliff and Thunder because it’s such a great team to be a part of and the players were brilliant last year on and off the ice,” Lord said. “Cliff really helped me last year building my confidence to play in a league like this and I just want to build on top of that this year with the team.

“I’m looking forward to getting on the ice with the team and having fun whilst doing all we can every game. This year with Coventry and MK will be a big year as I know what I can bring to the team. I just can’t wait to get on the ice and get started.”

Both Ollie’s home and away jerseys are available to sponsor on our Own & Loan scheme. Email manager@mkthunder.com to register your interest in having your name on Lordy’s jerseys and to have him present them to you at the 2019 Awards Night.

MK Thunder sign Great Britain Under 18 international Lewis English

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Roster

MK Thunder Head Coach Lewis Clifford has secured his third signing for the upcoming 2018-19 NIHL season in the form of Great Britain Under 18 international Lewis English.

The 17-year-old forward joins Thunder after spending the last two seasons developing his game Sweden in the J18 and J20 leagues.

“I’m really happy to have been able to sign Lewis for next season,” Clifford said. “He fits the mould of the kind of player I’m looking for and I feel he will really add to our team.”

English left home at 15 in 2016 to work on his game full-time with Bodens HF in J18 Elit following a junior career in Slough that saw him become an England U14 and Great Britain U16 international.

The new MKT number 19’s second year in Scandinavia included games in J18 and J20 Elit and concluded with winning D2A gold with Great Britain at the U18 World Junior Championships.

“I saw Lewis playing for the GB Under 18’s in the recently televised games and I was impressed with what I saw,” Clifford said. “When I spoke to him I was even more impressed by his mature attitude and outlook for such a young guy.”

Four of Clifford’s 2017-18 roster received international recognition last season — including Josh Crane and Rio Grinell-Parke who also gained Elite League experience with MK Lightning after impressing with MKT.

English said the attraction of playing for Thunder and the prospect of continuing his development under Clifford were major factors in his move to MK.

“After my last season in Sweden, I wanted to play for a good team with a good reputation,” English said.

“I spoke to the guys who have previously played for Lewis and they mentioned he is good with feedback, one-on-one coaching, he was approachable and through the one-on-one talks I have had with him I felt like he would be the best coach to push me and get the most out of me.

“I am really excited to play in Milton Keynes as there are a lot of opportunities with having the Elite League team and NIHL team and to see if I can bring the skills and knowledge I learnt in Sweden into English hockey.

“I am looking forward to meeting all the new teammates, to working with Lewis, and to the opportunities available,” English said.

Both English and his new coach are relishing the challenges ahead as Thunder enter a second consecutive season in the second-tier of British ice hockey.

“Lewis wants to play hockey at the highest level and is willing to do whatever he needs to to make that happen,” Clifford said. “Which is shown by the fact he went to Sweden by himself as a young man to get opportunities to play at a level that’s not available to him in this country.

“I hope we are able to help him springboard his career onwards and give him a platform to achieve his goals. I look forward to working with Lewis when the season starts.”

Lewis’ home and away jerseys for 2018-19 are now available to sponsor in our Own & Loan scheme. Email GM Dave Fairhurst on manager@mkthunder.com to register your interest.

Elite League & EPL veteran Tom Carlon re-signs with MK Thunder

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Roster

MK Thunder are delighted to confirm the re-signing of former Coventry Blaze and MK Lightning forward Tom Carlon.

Carlon made 52 appearances as Coventry won the Elite League title and EIHL Cup in 2007 before winning the EPL Cup and Playoffs with Lightning in 2017. He also won three gold medals and one bronze during four years on the Great Britain U18 and U20 teams.

Carlon returns for his second season under Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford following 18 points in 27 NIHL games with the red and black in 2017-18.

“I loved it last year,” Carlon said. “We had a great room and hockey was fun again.

“We didn’t always have the success we maybe should have and yet it was still enjoyable.”Carlon hailed the strength of the NIHL and is preparing to go up against some of the best teams in England again next season.

“I struggled personally last year so I’m looking forward to having another chance to hopefully help the team a little more,” he said.

“As a team I’m really looking forward to seeing if we can be more competitive. It’s a fun challenge to test ourselves as the league was much stronger than I think a lot of people thought it would be and I think every team will just get better.

“I’m excited to get back with the team and for us to keep learning and keep getting better.”

Carlon was presented to supporters gathered at the 2018 Awards Night on Saturday where the news of his return was announced.“I’m really pleased to be bringing TC back for next year,” Clifford said. “He’s a great guy and a player who adds so much to the team on and off the ice.”

The British forward’s previous clubs list features Telford Tigers, Bracknell Bees, Peterborough Phantoms and Belfast Giants. His experience of 616 professional games was key in MKT’s first ever season in the second flight of British ice hockey in 2017-18.

“TC felt he had a bad year last year and was beating himself up for not scoring as much as he thought he should be,” Clifford said. “However, he never saw the other side of it.

“I was happy with him as in many games he was the best player we had out there.

“I feel with a year of playing in this league under his belt — and a better understanding of how his role has had to change from his EPL days — TC will not only be the asset he was this year, but also improve on that and do more of what he loves to do, putting the puck in the net on a regular basis.”

MK Thunder 2017-18 End of Season Award Winners Revealed

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Roster

Defenceman of the Year – Greg Randall

Forward of the Year – Rio Grinell-Parke

Most Improved Player – Alex Whyte

Clubman of the Year – Nidal Phillips

Supporters’ Player of the Year – Tom Mboya

Coach’s Player of the Year – Grant McPherson

Player’s Player of the Year – Lewis Christie

Most Valuable Player – Tom Annetts