Milton Keynes Lightning have signed Polish national team netminder Przemyslaw Odrobny from Morzine Avoriaz in the top French ice hockey league.
Przemyslaw represented Poland in Div 1A for all five round robin games of the recent World Championships, with a save percentage of 92.04 per cent.
He has played for his country in the World Championships for the last eight consecutive seasons and in the last three consecutive Olympic games preliminary rounds.
Born in Gdansk, Przemyslaw learned his skills with his hometown team, where he remained for nine seasons. He earned his first senior international selection at the age of 22.
After nine seasons playing in Gdansk came a move to Sanok in the top Polish league as first choice net minder for two years. The 2013 season was unsettled, with Przemyslaw starting the season with Krynica before transferring to Jastrzebie, where he also spent the 2014-15 season. Summer 2015 saw Przemyslaw’s first move outside his home country, signing for Morzine Avoriaz in France, and now comes his first experience of the British game.
Przemyslaw’s skill has seen him earn numerous plaudits including Best Goals Against Average and Best Save Percentage in no fewer than three World Championships, Best Goaltender in two, as well as three bronze medals, two silver medals and one gold. During his last season in Poland (2014-15) he had the best GAA of any netminder in the country.
Lightning Head Coach, Pete Russell, said having seen Odrobny’s abilities for himself convinced him of the benefits he will bring to Milton Keynes.
He said: “I’ve seen him play many times over the past few seasons and seen him put in some huge performances for Poland. That’s the reason why we have brought him to Milton Keynes. He’s a big guy who takes up a lot of the net and is very quick around the net. He comes to us with very good experience at club level in Europe and at international level.
With an unprecedented number of teams committing one of their import slots to a netminder last season, Przemyslaw Odrobny’s signing makes Lightning the latest EPIHL team to do so. Pete Russell explained that it’s a necessary change to remain competitive in an increasingly tough league.
Russell added: “This is the direction the EPL is going and for this season I’ve decided to move forward with an import goalie. All the teams who won trophies last season were back-stopped by an import goalie. Yes, it’s a total change of direction for me and our club but in Przemyslaw Odrobny we are in very safe hands.
“Our main aim was work tirelessly to retain our strong British core and strive to even add to it in certain departments. This season the key goals for our imports is to lead in performance, in presence and complement our British pack in all areas, on and of the ice.
“I’m excited by this signing and we have just got stronger - he is going to be a very big player for us!”
Przemyslaw said: “I’m really happy to have signed a contract for two years with Milton Keynes Lightning. I’ve heard only good things about the British game from several people including (Swindon Wildcats forward) Tomasz Malasinski, my team mate from the Poland national team.
“This will be a great new experience and challenge for me. Lightning offered me a good opportunity, and I know that with my new team mates we can achieve a lot together.”