MK Lightning roster set for the new season

    Image Credit: © Tony Sargent

    The Milton Keynes Lightning have set their final roster ahead of the 2022/23 NIHL National season.

    The new season sees Tim Wallace take the helm of player-coach once again, having held the role for part of the team's 2018/19 Elite League season, and this time he has had control over building the roster.

    The Lightning will look very similar to the team that played under last head coach Lewis Clifford, with a number of fan favourites returning, including defencemen Lewis Christie, James Griffin and Ben Russell as well as forwards Leigh Jamieson, Liam Stewart and Bobby Chamberlain.

    Tyler Nixon and Millique Martelly return after spending time with the Lightning last season, with the latter continuing to work on a two-way deal with Streatham, and Sam Russell will also be back in the black, white and gold.

    Wallace himself will take to the ice with regularity, with the bench manned by assistant coach Joe Wilson whenever Wallace is in play.

    While the roster will have a very familiar feel, there will be a few 'new' signings for the team compared to the roster available during last season's run to the playoff final.

    Goaltender Jordan Hedley returns to the club after spending time in the EIHL and with the Great Britain national team, providing the Lightning with a genuine number one goaltender to work alongside Matthew Smital - who will most likely be the team's backup and provide valuable depth at the position.

    Rio Grinell-Parke makes a return to Planet Ice MK Arena after spending last season with Raiders. RGP has previously played under Wallace during his Elite League stint, making two appearances to provide depth to a thin roster during a tumultuous season at the club.

    The newest faces on the team come in the form of young British forward Mack Stewart and Latvian winger Deivids Sarkanis.

    Stewart joins the Lightning on a two-way deal with EIHL side the Belfast Giants. Capable of playing at either centre or on the left wing, Stewart has some experience both in the Elite League at the NIHL National, having played with the Leeds Knights last season.

    Sarkanis, meanwhile, joins the Lightning after a glowing recommendation from former fan favourite Georgs Golovkovs. The 27-year-old left winger has been a dominant player in his home nation's league, and has built up experiences in the KHL, France and Sweden as well as a brief stint with the Nottingham Panthers.

    Some notable departures for the team include Adam Laishram and team captain Russ Cowley, leaving the door open for a new leadership group, with the likes of Jamieson and Griffin potentially the frontrunners to receive the coveted captain's 'C' for the new campaign.

    This roster will have a familiar feel to it, but with the additions and returns there is no reason why another deep run in the playoffs can't be achieved once again and it will be an interesting experience to see Wallace take the reins from the get-go and sculpt the team to be how he wants it to be on the ice.

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