Netminder Przemyslaw Odrobny dominated the awards at Milton Keynes Lightning’s end of season party at Jurys Inn in Central Milton Keynes on Saturday.
The popular huge keeper known as “The Great Wall of Milton Keynes” picked up no less than three of the trophies on offer – the Most Valuable Player, the Players’ Player and the Supporters Club.
The night was one of celebration marking the club’s most successful in a decade or more, having won the English Premier League Cup and the Championship Play-offs.
However it was also tinged with some sadness for many of the squad will have played their game for the team with owners Planet Ice opting to move the club into the top tier of British ice hockey, the Elite League next season, bringing with it the prospect of 14 imports instead of the maximum of five allowed in the English Premier League.
The latter will be known as the Premier Ice Hockey League next term with the number of imports allowed down to three to help some of the less successful teams than Lightning.
Unlike in previous years there were no player signing announcements by head coach, Pete Russell. None were expected and none of the fans present dared ask for fear of starting to discover who will be the victims of the Elite move.
With the addition of Lightning and EPL rivals, Guildford Flames, the Elite League could be 12 strong next year but there is some doubt over that with the Scottish trio of Fife Flyers, Dundee Stars and Edinburgh Capitals voicing concern over additional costs.
Odrobny and fellow Polish countryman were not at the awards ceremony, having flown to Poland hours before, following two challenge matches against Great Britain – coached by Russell – in Coventry and Nottingham. Poland are due to take part in the World Championships later this month.
Blaz Emersic collected the Coach’s award with Russell saying that the Slovenian had been a reliable member of the roster both on the ice and in the dressing room.
Top Scorer award usually is won by an import but this time Brit Lewis Hook took the accolade while Best Defenceman was won by the always dependable Lewis Christie.
Most Improved Player was an easy choice said Russell, presenting it to teenager Luc Johnson.
A new award was also unveiled – the Unsung Hero which went to secretary of the Supporters Club, Mary Golson.
There was a loud round of applause when chairman of the Supporters Club, Dave Bunyan, announced it had raised a record £95,000 for the team this season.