By Tom Hurley
MK Thunder play their second doubleheader of the young season this weekend – including a home clash with London Raiders on Sunday night.
First up for Thunder is a road trip to The Link Centre on Saturday to face ex-EPLside Swindon Wildcats.
The Wildcats played four preseason games over the past two weeks, splitting a pair of games with Bracknell Bees and going down twice to Peterborough Phantoms.
Speaking to The Swindon Advertiser, Wildcats Head Coach Aaron Nell said he was looking forward to his team’s first league games of the season.
“Preseason was great but there is always a little bit extra when you are playing for real, where there are two points on the line,” Nell said.
“(Thunder are) a new team for us but I know a few of their players. They will be very difficult to play against. They are well coached and will be tough for us to break down.”
“They’ll come and try to upset us, the pressure us on for us to get a result and we can’t let them spoil that.”
Swindon’s roster includes ex-Thunder forward Luc Johnson and Great Britain caps Neil Liddiard and Phil Hill.
Thunder Head Coach Lewis Clifford complimented The Link Centre outfit.
“They’ve got a real solid team, they’ve got prolific scorers in their team … who could cause any team problems any night,” Clifford said.
“We’ve just really got to be switched on for 60 minutes, from the very first drop of the puck, and hope to grind a result out.”
On Sunday Thunder return to Milton Keynes to host Sean Easton’s London Raiders.
Slovakian forward Juraj Húska joined Easton in making the summer switch to London from Chelmsford, where he led the NIHL in scoring with 74 points.
Forward J.J. Pitchley who racked up 33 points and 140 penalty minutes last season also returns, along with top scorer Marek Nahlik.
Raiders defenseman Jack Cooper told the Romford Recorder the addition of Húska was ‘a blessing.’
“He brings so much talent and puts up serious points and continues to impress every year,” Cooper said. “I played against him for a few years and as a defender it was a nightmare.”
MKT saw a record-breaking home attendance for last weekend’s home opener with Bracknell Bees and Clifford said having similar support on Sunday would be a big boost to his team.
“It was a huge crowd,” Clifford said. “If we could repeat that it would be phenomenal. They were making some serious noise on Saturday and it really did help the boys.”
Clifford is set to be without defenseman Oliver Lord this weekend as his squad aims to improve on their .500 record.
Sunday night’s game with London Raiders is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. face off at Planet Ice. Tickets are priced at £9 Adults, £5 Concessions/MKL season tickets holders, and £1 Under 16s.