Luomala out, Bakrlik in for Lightning

Marko Luomala left Lightning this week.

Marko Luomala left Lightning this week.

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MK Lightning have reshuffled their rosdter once again, releasing Marko Luomala and replacing him with Frantisek Bakrlik.

Last week, Rene Jarolin was released to make way for Martti Jarventie, and coach Pete Russell continued to make changes in a bid to reverse the slump his side have faced in recent weeks.

Lightning have won just two of their last nine games, having started brilliantly and sitting top of the English Premier League.

‘Frankie’ Bakrlik, 32, is a proven goalscorer who will give Lightning a more physical edge and a more potent offensive threat as the club approaches the half-way mark in the season, with EPL Cup semi finals looming.

After beginning his career with HC Litvinov in his native Czech Republic, Bakrlik moved to North America in 2000, aged just 17, to play for Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Spells in the South East Hockey League and United Hockey League followed, before he returned to Europe in 2005.

In the 2009 season while playing in Poland he was his team’s top points scorer with 68 from 54 games - beating team mates Milan Baranyk and Tomasz Malasinski, who have also since gone on to make their name in the EPL.

2011 saw Frankie’s first experience of the British game with the Elite League’s Hull Stingrays - alongside none other than Jack Watkins and Bobby Chamberlain, whom he now joins in MK. The following season he signed at the EPL Slough Jets where he became their top goals and points scorer by some margin, the third-highest goalscorer in the league.

In 2013 he moved north to Manchester, where he became Phoenix’s second highest goalscorer as the team topped the league and made it to the Play Off Final. The following season reinforced his place in Phoenix fans’ affections when he averaged just under two points per game.

Then came the shock news earlier this year that he had signed for Bracknell Bees, under new ownership and aiming to overturn their reputation as a league anchor team. However with the Berkshire outfit currently sitting ninth in the EPL, Frantisek has taken the decision to look for a new challenge - helping the new-look Lightning in their mission for silverware.

MKL Head Coach Pete Russell said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to add a player of Frankie Bakrli’s quality at this stage of the season.

“He has it all and is known as a game changer. He has proven his skills in the EPL and I know will add the attacking threat that we need going into a crucial period of the season.

“When I heard that Frankie had become available, we moved quickly and fortunately, the pieces all just fell into place. He is the sniper we need; I can’t wait to see him in our club’s colours, and I hope our fans are looking forward to it, too!”

Commenting on his transfer, Bakrlik said: “I’m very happy about joining a club with great potential to win trophies this season. I heard a lot of good things about Lightning and their fans and will try my best to help them achieve every success possible.”