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 ‘G’ 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; "I’m 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 don’t 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 he’s probably not showed during his 10 year MKL
career. I’m 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 can’t 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 we’ve 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 I’m 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.