Czech defenceman Lukas Zatopek has played his final game for MK Lightning, the club have confirmed.
The popular player has been part of the Lightning roster since 2008, and quickly became a favourite amongst the fans by becoming the team’s top scoring defender in his first season.
He played a key role in guiding Lightning to the English Premier League in 2009/10, adding a huge physical presence at both ends of the ice.
Such was his popularity, Lightning fans voluntarily contributed to his wages to keep him in Milton Keynes.
“Lukas has been such a fantastic servant to the club over the last six years”, said Head Coach Nick Poole. “He’s been the focal point of our defence and a real leader on and off the ice with his professional approach to the game. A big strong player that read the game very well and was extremely difficult to beat one-on-one. Every game he played, he gave his best - and he always put the team’s goals ahead of his own.
“The ‘Big Man’ will be missed and I know all our supporters will join me in thanking him for all his efforts and wish him every success in the future. He is a true gentleman and will always be a part of this club.”
Zatopek added: “It’s sad - but that’s hockey. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone involved with the game in MK, the fans, players and the management - absolutely everybody.
“It’s been a great six years and I’ll never forget my time living and playing in Milton Keynes.
“I want to wish everyone at the Lightning good luck for next season. I’m really going to miss this place because there are some great people here.”