Milton Keynes Lightning’s all-time leader in penalty minutes Grant McPherson will return to MK Thunder for the 2018-19 NIHL season.

The tenacious forward joined Lewis Clifford’s MKT roster in 2017 at the conclusion of a 11-season association with MK Lightning that saw the Scot become a legend in the eyes of Milton Keynes hockey fans.

“It feels great to be back.,” McPherson said. “I genuinely thought my career was over after last season as I was told I would need to have surgery on both my hips, but with that being delayed, it has allowed me to suit up once again for the Thunder and I can’t wait to get back out there.

“I loved my hockey last year. Would I have liked to have won more games, absolutely, but it was always fun turning up to the rink and going to war with the boys. It looks like Cliff is putting together another young, hungry team and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it. Hopefully my old legs can keep up.”

Clifford is delighted to get his longtime friend signed on for the upcoming campaign and revealed McPherson was the first signature he sought in the summer.

“Getting G signed up is hugely important to this team, “Clifford said. “He is one of the first guys I called as soon as the season finished and I am really happy we could sort something out to get him back on the ice again next season.

“There are obvious things about G’s game that everyone notices, but there are more important things to our team that probably fly under the radar other than to guys who really know him and guys who share the ice with him.

“G does the little things right, he competes hard every shift and he brings a whole wealth of experience to the team, his performances in the playoffs last year showed he is a big game player and knows when it is time to come to play.

“If a young player wants to know what it takes to be a winner they just need to have a look at G, not the biggest or the most skilled guy in the team but a guy who puts everything he has into every game he plays.”

McPherson first came to Milton Keynes a fresh-faced teenager in 2006 after beginning his senior career with hometown Edinburgh Capitals. Multiple cup finals and 11 seasons later, his number 9 jersey was retired into the Planet Ice rafters in recognition of his service to the MK community and his success with Lightning in the old English Premier League.

Twelve months down the line and equipped with a season of NIHL hockey, McPherson is hungry to play in front of the Milton Keynes hockey family once again.

“There is a big difference between the two leagues,” McPherson said comparing NIHL to the EPL. “The EPL was a lot more structured in terms of team systems, but sometimes that takes the fun out the game and can make it a little boring. I think the fans can look forward to watching some really exciting games where young, local, British players are giving their all.

“I think we all learned last year that we must be fitter going into this season. Some of these teams we are playing are training two, three times a week on the ice, so we must put that effort in off the ice in order to keep up.

“Saying that, I think we had a great year last year. We knew it was going to be a massive step up in quality, but we managed to get at least a point off all the big boys and that will give us the belief that we can beat anyone on our day.”

This will be McPherson’s 13th season playing Second Division hockey in Milton Keynes and the 5-foot-11, 72KG explosive forward is looking forward to representing his adopted hometown once again.

“It’s no secret that I have a great relationship with the ice hockey community here in Milton Keynes, so it’s great that I get to continue that for at least another year. One thing that was great to see last season was the effort that the off-ice staff were putting in to build this club up. To play in front of some of the crowds we got last year was awesome and I know all the boys appreciated it.”

While Clifford recognised McPherson’s storied past in Milton Keynes, the second-year head coach is more worried about what his number 9 can do in the season ahead.

“I don’t give too much thought about the history of G in his time in MK,” Clifford said. “I look at the present and the future and I have a guy on my team I know I can always rely on, a great teammate, a tough competitor and a guy who would do anything for his team to give them a chance to win.

“I guess the fact that his number is hanging in the rafters just shows that the role he fulfils for us now is something he has been doing for a number of years on a consistent basis.”

Season Tickets for the 2018-19 MK Thunder season are now available to buy at the low costs of just £140 Adults, £70 Concessions, and £14 Under 16s. Click here for more details and to download your Season Ticket application form today.