company, The Red Corner Document Solutions will become title sponsors of the
Thunder for the 2017-18 season as they prepare for a tough campaign.
Established over 20 years ago, The
Red Corner offers clients across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire a
tailored solution for digital photocopiers & printers - whether they are setting
up a home office or looking to save costs and improve efficiency in a large
With customer service regarded by their customers as second to none, advisors
offer independent advice to find machines and finance package tailored to every
customer's requirements. Customers then have peace of mind from being able to
call upon The Red Corner service engineers, all of whom have more than 25 years'
experience of the Canon equipment range alone.
The Red Corner's James Clarke said Thunder's overall approach last season were
key to this deal being done: "The directors of The Red Corner Document Solutions
have been deeply involved with ice hockey in the UK for a good number of years.
We were particularly impressed with the level of professionalism of the club and
its coaching and management team during the 2016/17 season. This made our
decision to become the main sponsor of the Thunder even easier for the
"With our impending expansion into this area we will be able to provide the full
spectrum of Canon Hardware & Document Solutions. If we can match success both on
and off the ice it will have been an extremely satisfying venture!"
Thunder General Manager Dave Fairhurst said "We are very grateful that The Red
Corner Document Solutions has shown faith in what we are trying to achieve with
Thunder. It shows how far the team has come over the last few seasons that we
can attract the support of such a quality company, and their backing will enable
us to put a better product on the ice for our fans. I look forward to working
closely with the directors over the course of this season."
Find out more about the company on their website,
BACK FOR HIS FIRST FULL SEASON
Milton Keynes Thunder are pleased to announce the re-signing of 19 year old
forward Hallden Barnes-Garner. Hallden started his career here in Milton Keynes
before moving to play in Slough for a season in 2013-14, and following this he
ventured to Austria to play in the Okanagan Europe system for 2 seasons. Hallden
found his way back to MK last year and signed for Thunder half way through the
season where he hit the ground running, scoring 6 goals in 11 games at the back
end of the campaign. Hallden brings both youth and an eye for goal to the
Thunder line-up and is a player who can be used in a variety of situations which
makes him a valuable asset for the Thunder in the upcoming season.
Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford
was happy to bring Hallden back into the team for the forthcoming campaign and
offered the following comments; "I am really pleased to have Hallden on board
for next season, I have known him since he was a young lad and I know he is a
player that with the right direction and coaching could really establish himself
in this league. I didn't see Hallden play last season when he returned from his
stint abroad but the reports I heard on him were all positive, that he works
hard, adds some grit and toughness to the team and is a player who doesn't need
a lot of chances before he puts a puck in the net. I'm looking forward to
coaching Hallden and helping him develop his game at a senior level, as I have
said before the success of this club relies heavily on local guys who care for
the shirt and I feel Hallden fits the bill perfectly."
When asked about returning to the Thunder, Hallden said; "I am really happy to
re-sign for Thunder and feel we have a real good chance this year. I have seen
the players that have been brought in and we have a really strong side and a
great chance to succeed. I can't wait to start the season and try to continue
how I left off. I will work my hardest for the Thunder, as will everyone, to try
and bring some silverware to MK."
Hallden will continue to wear the #14 shirt with both home and away shirts now
available to sponsor under our 'Own and Loan' scheme. Email email@example.com
if you're interested in supporting Hallden.
Milton Keynes Thunder are pleased to announce the
signing of Milton Keynes native Nidal Phillips. 24-year-old Nidal is a one club
man having come through the junior system in MK and has played his whole senior
career here, predominantly with Thunder but also spending some time in the EPL
with Lightning. Nidal is predominantly a defenceman but can play on the wing
when needed, this versatility will come in useful for the club this season as we
play in the strongest NIHL to date. Nidal is a strong skater with good speed and
a great engine and will work hard for his team every night.
Thunder Head Coach Lewis Clifford made the following
comments on the re-signing of Nidal; "Whilst I knew it was important to
strengthen the team this year and bring in some new guys, I also know it is and
always has been important to have a core of guys who know and love the club and
will do whatever they are asked. Nige is a top lad; I have known and worked with
him on and off since he was a youngster in the junior club and seen him develop
not only into a solid player at this level but also a great guy who works hard
every night. Nige is an athlete, he is big and strong and has good speed, all
attributes which will help our team hugely in the more competitive league we
find ourselves in this year. Nige will predominantly play defence this year but
I know if I ask him to he will jump up on the wing if need be and will do so
with no fuss and give his all on every shift. Players like Nige are essential to
this team, work rate, dedication and speed are all attributes he possesses are
what we need to play the way I want us to."
When asked about staying in Thunder colours for another season, Nidal made the
following comments; "Cliff has done a great job so far bringing in local and
external talent, to which once brought together will be a formidable team to
really turn some heads and make some major upsets this upcoming season. I want
to put my strengths to work for the team and develop where needs be. Having
known Cliff since the start of my career, I know what he expects out of his
players and team. I am proud and honoured to be back in a Thunder jersey this
season. I'm positive it'll be a good one!! Cannot wait to get back out on the
ice with the lads and shoot some pucks, and try to bring some silverware to MK!"
Nidal will continue to wear the #13 Thunder jersey, both home and away are now
available to sponsor under our 'Own and Loan' Scheme. £125 per shirt or £200 if
you'd like both shirts. simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your
CHRISTIE BECOMES A THUNDER PLAYER
MK Thunder are delighted to announce the signing of
former MK Lightning defenceman Lewis Christie. Edinburgh born Lewis started his
career in his home town before moving across the Irish Sea for a season in the
Elite League with the Belfast Giants. Following his season in Northern Ireland
Lewis was brought to Milton Keynes by Nick Poole in 2008 and he has remained
here ever since, setting up home with his young family. Lewis will bring an
excellent skill set to the Thunder blue line, he is as strong defensively as any
player in the new look NIHL and he is a competitive player who takes pride in
his defensive responsibilities and thrives on the challenges of going head to
head with other teams top line players.
Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford couldnít have been
happier when talking about signing Christie, he offered the following comments;
"Signing Lewy is massive for this club, it has taken a while to get him sorted
as he wasnít sure he was going to play this season, but I managed to convince
him! Heís far too good to be sat at home on the weekends while we are competing
against top teams and players that he relishes playing against. Lewy is a
difference maker for us, he provides us with one of the best defensive
defencemen in the league alongside a ton of leadership, he is a quiet guy who
goes about his business but he leads on every shift by example and younger guys
on the team will learn loads from just being around him. If I could sign a whole
team of guys like Lewy I would do it in a heartbeat, he is a competitor and will
make us better every night."
Lewis Christie was asked about his signing and he provided the following
comments; "This year was always going to be a difficult one for me, I wasn't
sure if I was going to continue playing for another season as my work and family
life is fairly hectic. However I knew in my heart that I was not ready to give
it up and luckily my little girl loves watching me play so it felt only right to
play another season. When Cliff contacted me to play for Thunder it was a no
brainer for me, the club is going to have one of its most exciting years to date
and we have some brilliant players on board. I'm chuffed to be back in MK for
another season and look forward to the year ahead."
Lewis will be wearing the #66 shirt for the coming season, both home and away
shirts are available to sponsor under our 'Own and Loan'scheme. email email@example.com
if you would like your name on the shirt!
Milton Keynes Thunder are delighted to announce the
signing of 6í4" defenceman Rupert Quiney for the 2017-18 season. London born
Rupert started his career in the Streatham set up before crossing the Atlantic
to spend 3 seasons in the GMHL, icing for the Toronto Canada Moose. Since his
return from Canada, Rupert has iced in Cardiff (in both the Elite and National
leagues,) Telford, Guildford and Bracknell (all EPL.) The last few seasons for
Rupert have been disrupted through injury, however a successful surgery has seen
him come back ready to play and as strong as he was before he hit injury
troubles. Rupert will bring size, leadership and physicality to the Thunder blue
line, and make smart decisions on and off the puck both defensively and
Head Coach Lewis Clifford was full of praise for
Rupert when he was asked for his thoughts; "Iím really happy that we were able
to sign Rupe, as soon as I was put into contact with him and spoke to him for
the first time I was really impressed with the way he spoke and how realistic he
was about the team we are putting together and what his role would be. Rupe has
been injured a lot over the last few seasons, and he wants an opportunity to be
on a team where he is going to play a lot, we were able to offer him that chance
and provide him with the platform he needs to get his career back on track. So
far this summer we have signed a lot of players with talent and speed but we
were lacking some size, Rupe addresses that, whilst adding to our pool of
talent, and he will make sure that itís not much fun for opposing forwards to
come to our net. Everyone I have spoken to has told me that Rupe is a great guy,
which is important to me because good team dynamics and cohesion is something I
feel is vital to our chances of success this year. I look forward to seeing Rupe
pull on the Thunder shirt in September and I have no doubt in my mind he will
become a fans favourite pretty quickly."
When asked for his opinions, Rupert made the following coments; "I'm really
excited to get started in MK. The last couple of seasons have been challenging
for me, but I know this move will allow me to log minutes and get me back to my
best. I would like to thank Lewis and the Thunder organisation for giving me
this opportunity and I will do my best to do them and the fans proud this
Rupert will be wearing the #44 Thunder shirt this season, both home and away
shirts are now available to sponsor under our 'Own and Loan' scheme. If you'd
like to support Rupert, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We suspect you'll need to
SIGNS FOR THUNDER
Milton Keynes Thunder are delighted to announce the
signing of highly experienced forward Gareth O'Flaherty from the Telford Tigers.
Gareth holds a wealth of hockey knowledge at all levels in the U.K, following
stints in the ENL, Elite League and over 150 games in the old EPL with
Manchester, Hull and most recently Telford. Gareth will bring leadership,
intensity and quality to the line up and play a prominent role in the Thunder
team in the campaign.
Head Coach Lewis Clifford was very happy with the
signing and offered the following comments; "I'm really happy to have got Flatsy
to sign for us this year, I have known him a long time and I know exactly what
he will bring to the team and for me it's all positives. This year to play for
this team I want players to possess at least 2 of the following qualities,
leadership, high compete levels and speed, Flatsy possesses all 3 and will be a
huge player for us. Flatsy will enjoy a position on the team higher in the line
up than he's probably been used to for the last few years, and I believe he will
really come into his own with the extra ice time and responsibility."
When asked about signing for Thunder, Gareth said; "I'm really excited to be
joining the Thunder and playing for Cliff this season. After speaking to him and
hearing about his plans and the team he's putting together, it was an easy
decision to make. Cliff's already signed some high caliber players and I'm
looking forward to playing with them in what will be a fast, skilled team with a
lot of energy."
Gareth will be wearing the #73 Thunder shirt, both home and away are now
available to sponsor under our 'Own and Loan' scheme. Email email@example.com
if you want to support Gareth and have his shirt(s) at the end of the season.
£125 per shirt or £200 if you want both.
LIGHTNING CREATE PERFECT STORM FOR MK ICE HOCKEY FANS
New owners Graham and Monica Moody continue to live
up to their promises, on purchasing of MK Lightning, of ensuring that fans are
at the forefront of major decisions for the newly-promoted Elite League team.
The pair met recently with MK Thunder General Manager Dave Fairhurst to discuss
the future of ice hockey in Milton Keynes and to explore how the two teams can
support each other on their respective journeys.
The result was an agreement that all MK Lightning
Season Ticket holders can get more than 40% off MK Thunder match day tickets,
reducing the standard price from £9 to just £5 per game.
Commenting on the partnership, Graham said: "Monica and I are both passionate
about grassroots sports, and we are committed to ice hockey in Milton Keynes at
all levels. It's really important that we support each other, so we've also
agreed, where possible and practical we will also promote each other too."
Dave added: "This is a brilliant added incentive for fans of ice hockey in
Milton Keynes - as Graham says, it's really important that we all support each
other. It's an exciting time for ice hockey in Milton Keynes and it's
encouraging that we are all focused on the same goal of working together to
raise the profile of the game across the region and beyond."
Milton Keynes Thunder are delighted to announce the
signing of Great Britain Under 18 international forward Rio Grinell-Parke from
the Bracknell Bees. Despite only being 18 years old, Rio already has experience
in the NIHL (London Raiders) and the EPL (Bracknell Bees) as well as travelling
to Korea this year as part of the GB18's. Rio has been a mainstay of Conference
teams throughout his career, both South East and South West after splitting his
junior career between Romford, Guildford and Bracknell. A player who possesses a
ton of speed and a good offensive skill set, Rio will look to play a much larger
role on next years Thunder team than he has done on teams previously in his
short senior career.
Thunder Coach Lewis Clifford was delighted with the
signing of Rio and made the following comments; "We as a club are fully
committed to giving young players a platform to play and to elevate their game,
Rio is the first of the young guns we have announced but certainly won't be the
last, the mix of youth and experience is imperative to our success and our
ability to compete. I have known Rio for some time, I coached him in the South
West Conference team in 2013 and I've followed his progress right up to him
playing for the Bees against us last season when I was with MKL. Rio has a lot
of speed, he is skilled and he knows where the net is, but most importantly he
works hard the whole time he's on the ice, at 18 years old of course he's not
the finished product but I feel he has the attitude to go a long way in the game
if he continues to improve at the rate I've seen since I first knew him as a 13
Rio was asked about signing for the Thunder; "I am really pleased to be signing
for Milton Keynes Thunder this season. I am grateful for the opportunity that
has been presented to me. I think it will be a great move for me and I think I
can learn a lot from the experienced players and coach to further enhance my
game and attributes. I do believe I will be able to thrive within a team as
dynamic as MK Thunder and utilise my speed and my work ethic on a much bigger
ice pad, especially with more responsibility in the role the coach wants me to
play. There is still a lot for me to learn as a player in order to assure I
fulfil my potential, but I'm willing to work as hard as I possibly can to
MK Thunder are proud to announce the return of
captain Jamie Line for the 2017-18 season. Jamie needs no introduction to any MK
hockey fan, he started his career in the junior system here and has gone on to
represent both Lightning and Thunder, making well in excess of 200 appearances
at senior level here at his home town club. After starting his junior career in
Milton Keynes, Jamie had spells in Swindon and Bracknell as a junior before
making his senior debut for the Bracknell Bees as a 15 year old, this was
followed by spells at Slough (EPL) Peterborough (EPL) and a couple of stints for
both MK senior teams. One of the fastest players in any league he plays in,
Jamie has captained Thunder for the last 3 years, scoring 160 points in the
process, his small stature coupled with his pace makes him a nightmare for
opposing defences to deal with and he provides a genuine goal scoring threat any
time he is on the ice.
Coach Lewis Clifford was full of praise for Jamie when he was asked about the
return of the skipper; "Iím really happy Liney has agreed to come back and play
for another year, heís a guy who is great to have on any team, with speed to
burn and a great eye for goal, he is as comfortable making plays for others as
he is scoring goals himself. I have always loved the way Liney plays the game,
he has a great combination of speed, skill and no shortage of grit that makes
him a great asset to this team, I am looking forward to having him in the
line-up when the season comes around."
Jamie made the following comments on his return to captain the Thunder for
another year; "I am very proud and honoured to be captain for a great team like
Thunder. I have loved playing for Thunder for the last 3 years. We have
previously had some tough times facing challenges like, injuries, player changes
and availability but with the new league structure and the team Cliff and Dave
are forming, this year the stability will move Thunder in the right direction. A
mixture of old and new faces with guys who are 100% committed this season is
going to be an exciting one!"
When you talk about senior hockey in Milton Keynes,
it is hard not to mention the name Ross Bowers, mainly due to the fact that with
the exception of one year where he played for Basingstoke and Slough, he has
been an ever present on the roster of either Lightning or Thunder for 13 years,
and we are delighted to announce that it is now going to be 14, as Rosco has
agreed to come back for another year in Thunder colours. Ross made his debut for
MKL in the 2002-03 season as a junior player, and went on to have an outstanding
career with the team, winning 3 league titles and 3 playoff trophies during his
time in black and gold. Ross is a competitive guy who comes to the rink every
night wanting to win, and we are happy to have him back in the line-up for
Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford offered the
following comments on Rossís re-signing; "Iím really happy to have Bow-Wow in
the team for next year, I canít emphasise enough how important it is to have
local guys in the line-up who want to win, know how to win and demand the best
of themselves and their team mates. Rosco is a player who offers us an offensive
threat in every game, he is a great skater with a quick and accurate shot, and
he isnít afraid to go to the net or in the corners to get possession of the puck
and make things happen. I am looking at Rosco to be a leader on the team and
help younger guys on the team to mature and develop their game."
When asked about his return to the Thunder line-up, Ross had this to say; "As a
16 year old kid, It's was the Thunder who gave me my first chance at senior ice
hockey. Ive always been grateful for that and it's been a pleasure to have spent
the last two seasons back where it started. With Thunder now competing in the
second tier of British ice hockey it's no secret that it's going to be a big
challenge to compete with the bigger budget teams, but it's a challenge I'm
looking forward to. Manager Dave Fairhurst and coach Lewis Clifford have been
doing a great job recruiting players that are not only very talented, but also
team-first guys. I'm a big believer that a fun, competitive and close knit
dressing room is the secret to a team playing above the sum of their parts. I'm
aware that I'm on the 'back 9' of my playing career but I still have plenty left
in the tank and I'm just as hungry to win as ever! It's an honour to wear the
Thunder uniform for another season. See you all in September."
PLAYER OF THE YEAR RETURNS
In keeping with our tradition of using locally
trained players, we are pleased to announce the return of Tom Mboya for his 8th
season in a Thunder shirt. 23 year old Tom is a true one club man, having come
all the way through the ranks from the MK Storm Under 10ís all the way up to the
Thunder. Tom is a forward with a good shot and a good range of skills, and was a
regular in South West Conference and England teams all the way through his
Speaking about Tom, Lewis Clifford was really happy
to have secured his return; "I am glad we have kept hold of Tommy, I have known
him since he was a little kid and coached him on several occasions through his
junior and senior career. Tommy has always had a lot of raw talent, and I
believe there is more to come from him if he is utilised in the right way with
the right guidance, he is a top lad, keen to do well and fully committed to the
team, a true MK player through and through. I put trust in Tommy when I gave him
his senior debut when he was 16, and I am going to put even more trust in him
this time around as one of the senior players on the roster."
Tom offered the following comments on his continued career in Thunder
colours;"It's great to be back in thunder colours for another year. I feel like
over the last few years we have built a really strong core group of guys and we
will only get stronger with the new additions. Coming off the back of a tough
season with lots of changes throughout the team, it's good to have stability in
place and I feel Cliff will drive us all in the right direction. When I spoke to
Cliff and he explained his plans for this year I was more than happy to be a
part of them, and I'm grateful to be given the opportunity. I'm really excited
to get started with the new league format, and can't wait to get back on the
MK Thunder are delighted to announce the signing of
highly rated netminder Tom Annetts. Hailing from Reading, 29 year old Tom has
spent the vast majority of his career in the Bracknell organisation, however he
also has Guildford, Basingstoke and Slough on his resume as well as most
recently the Oxford City Stars where he spent most of the last 2 seasons. A
veteran of over 10 seasons in the EPL, as well as stints in the old BNL, Tom
should bring vital experience to the team and be able to provide a solid
foundation to build out from the back.
Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford made the following
comments about the addition of Tom to the line up; "I am really happy to have
secured a goalie with as much EPL experience as Tommy, with the rise in standard
of the league and some of the squads other coaches are putting together I felt
it was really important to have a goalie in the net who has played at that level
for the majority of his career and is used to facing the kind of shots some of
the guys in our league will possess. When speaking to Tommy he seems really keen
to get going and that enthusiasm coupled with his ability in the net will
provide us with a solid presence between the pipes."
When asked for his comments on his move to Thunder, Tom had the following
comments; "I'm really excited to join the Thunder for the new season and looking
forward to getting started with the new league format. It will be a tough season
but after speaking with Lewis and the signings already announced I'm confident
he is putting together a strong team. I've heard nothing but good things about
the whole MK set up and can't wait for the season to get started."
Thunder are delighted to announce their latest
signing and it's a big one as Tom Carlon will be bringing his 6'4" frame back to
MK to play his debut season in Thunder colours.
Familiar to MK hockey fans, Tom spent parts of 3 of
the last 4 seasons in Lightning colours which saw him scoring 47 goals in just
over 120 games. Tom started his career in Telford followed by stints in
Coventry, Bracknell, Slough and Peterborough before he ended up in MK, with a
break in the middle in which he played in the UAE for Abu Dhabi Storms. A
consistent performer in the EPL for over 12 years, Tom brings a wealth of both
experience and ability to the team which is not easy to come by at this level.
When asked about the signing Thunder Head Coach Lewis Clifford had the following
comments; "I spoke to TC just to test the waters, expecting the answer to be a
firm no, but immediately I got the feeling that there was a chance I could talk
him into playing for one more season with the reduced schedule of the new look
NIHL1. Tom had made a judgement to retire from hockey but we all know he was far
too good and too young to be sat at home not playing, someone at some point
would have snapped him up, and I'm absolutely ecstatic that it was us. I can't
wait to see TC pull on the Thunder colours this year and help our team in any
way he can, he's a great player and a great guy to have on your team."
When asked about his move to Thunder, TC made the following comments; "I was all
set for weekends at home with my wife and son as it's been a hard slog
travelling all those miles every week for practice and then being away from them
all weekend because of games. When Cliff contacted me about playing again he
tempted me with an offer which meant I can still have quality time with my
family as well as getting to enjoy playing again with a great bunch of lads. I'm
excited to be back playing the game I love after the shortest retirement in
WELL KNOWN MK PLAYER JOINS THUNDER
Hot on the heels of the signing of Ross Green on
Wednesday, Thunder Head Coach Lewis Clifford has secured the services of long
time MK Lightning forward Grant ĎGí McPherson. G learned his trade in the
Edinburgh / Murrayfield club before moving south to Milton Keynes at the age of
19 to sign for the Lightning, where he remained until he retired at the end of
the 2015-16 season. G spent last season as an assistant coach with the Lightning
alongside Cliff, working and learning under Pete Russell and we feel very lucky
that Cliff has been able to talk him into putting his gear on once again to ice
in Thunder colours.
On this signing Lewis Clifford had the following comments; "Iím so happy to have
G signed up for the team next year, one of the first things I wanted to do when
I took the job was sign a heartbeat for the team, a group of local guys who play
hockey the right way and will work hard to compete on every shift every night,
and I have made a great start to that, with more to come. Just like Ross Green,
I know exactly what G is capable of, and I donít believe he gets as much credit
for his hockey skills as he deserves due to the way he has played the game and
the amount of penalty minutes he has amassed over the years, all of which have
always been team first penalties when he has been standing up for his team mates
or trying to get his team going. I have not bought G here to fight, I have
bought him here to play hockey hard and honest like he always has, but also to
use his skills in a way that heís probably not showed during his 10 year MKL
career. Iím very excited to have G around both as a player but also as a guy who
I can trust to give me honest feedback and opinions on the coaching side of the
game as we have worked closely together in that role previously."
When asked about his return to the ice with Thunder, Grant offered the
following; "It feels great to have signed for the Milton Keynes Thunder. Having
had a year out from the playing side, I can honestly say that I canít wait to
get going. I can feel the passion again. I learnt a lot last year, but when
Cliff called to tell me the news that he was going to accept the position of
Head Coach and that he wanted me to play again, it was an easy decision. I know
a lot of the guys on the team and weíve already been discussing how excited we
are to make an impact on this new league structure. Roll on September!"
ALL STAR RETURNS
Having taken the best defenceman and coaches player
awards last season and been named on the first line of the NIHL All Star team,
new head coach Lewis Clifford has moved quickly to secure the signature of fans
favourite Ross Green for next season.
GM Dave Fairhurst stated "Ross showed last season what EPL quality can do in our
league. That quality will be even more important next season as Thunder compete
in the new Tier 2 of UK hockey, so Iím delighted to have Ross on board and so
obviously keen to get started with the new team."
Head Coach Lewis Clifford was equally enthusiastic about his first signing "Im
really happy that Ross has agreed to come back for another year, I've known Ross
since he started playing hockey, I've coached him at various levels over the
years, most recently he was with me for 5 of my 6 years with MKL. I know exactly
what Ross is capable of and the scary thing is I don't think Thunder fans even
saw the best of him last year, I'm looking forward to trying to get him back to
his very best this season and I'm really looking forward to working with him
TERMS WITH NEW HEAD COACH
MK Thunder has moved quickly to sign up a new head
coach as soon as the league format was agreed on Sunday, and are delighted to
announce that Lewis Clifford will take up the role as Thunder Head Coach.
Cliff needs no introduction of MK hockey fans, he joins us after six years
working as assistant coach of MK Lightning with Nick Poole and more
recently Pete Russell, and is the current head coach of the junior programme in
Milton Keynes. In addition Cliff has extensive experience as a junior conference
coach, roles that he took up after his nine year Thunder playing career ended.
Thunder General Manager Dave Fairhurst said "I'm so pleased that Cliff has
agreed to take up the role with Thunder, I met up with him a few weeks ago to
discuss the role but at that point we didn't know where Thunder would be playing
in NIHL or the league structure so agreed to talk again after the League meeting
on Sunday. I know he was highly sought after by other clubs in the NIHL so I'm
extremely happy he made the decision to join the Thunder. Having him onboard
gives Thunder an excellent link with the junior club and also with Lightning in
the Elite League".
Dave added "Who is in a better position to know what talent is coming through
the junior system and potentially feed into Thunder in years to come. It may
take time but that close link hasn't been there for a few seasons and Thunder
really needs home grown talent coming through in the future".
When asked about his decision to take on the Thunder coaching role Cliff said
"I've spent a month or so now debating what to do with my future hockey wise,
and had a few offers. I knew I wanted to coach at senior level but I needed to
find a job that was compatible with coaching the juniors in MK as that's a
project I see being long term that I'm really only getting started on. I know
the set up here, I know most of the existing players and I will look at bringing
in a mixture of experienced players and young guys who are keen and are looking
to make a name for themselves in the new look NIHL. I am looking forward to
getting started when the new season arrives and working alongside Dave and the
players to move this great club in the right direction."
League Structure agreed for NIHL
Following the NIHL South section meeting on Sunday 7 May, the the format for 17/18 season has been agreed after more than 6 hours of discussions.
The applications from former EPIHL sides Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Peterborough Phantoms and Swindon Wildcats were accepted and they take the place in NIHL South 1 next season. In addition Cardiff Fire has been voted into NIHL1 having won the South West NIHL2 Conference last season.
In total there will be 12 teams in Division 1, split into two conferences of six teams.
Milton Keynes Thunder
Oxford City Stars
Teams will play others in their own conference twice home and away, and teams out of conference once home and once away.
This gives the Thunder a 32 game league season, there is an NIHL S1 Cup competition but Thunder is not entered in that.
Also, coming in this season is 3 on 3 overtime for tied games. The 5min OT will be followed by penalty shots if required.