Poole steps up as Rausa considers Lightning options

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Players past and present paid tribute to captain Adam Carr in his testimonial match on Saturday - just 24 hours after fans learned that Nick Poole will no longer be coach of MK Lightning.

Instead Poole who has led the club since their formation in 2002 has been promoted to general manager, taking the place of Vito Rausa.

No successor to Poole has yet been announced.

Rausa said he, chairman Harry Howton and Nick had been running the club with Planet Ice for the past two years and that they needed to make decisions to take the club forward. He said he would have preferred Nick to continue as coach.

The news revealed at the end of season awards evening threatened to put a dampener on Carr’s evening at MK Arena. But concerns about the future of the team were put aside in a night of fun and frolics as the current Lightning side took on Carsy’s Allstars who heavily outnumbered the present roster.

Despite that the Allstars who included former fan favourites such as Dean Campbell, Kurt Irvine, Michael Wales, Chris McEwen, Barry Hollyhead, Greg Randall and Simon Howard, were defeated 14-9.

Lightning’s first captain Dwayne Newman was a late addition to the squad after his Chelmsford Chieftains side were disqualified from the English National League play-offs for icing an ineligible player.

The guest outfit also numbered Swedes Monir Kalgoum and Joakim Wiklander and Finns Andre Smulter and Janne Jokila as well more recent import Stan Lascek.

It took time for the first goal to be scored - seemingly both sides seemed scared to do so. But once Carsy, playing at that stage for the Allstars, supplied Irvine at 7mins 22secs the scores came fast and regularly.

Carr got the next goal less than a minute before the proceedings turned with four goals for Lightning from Michael Farn, Chris Wiggins, Nidal Phillips and one announced as Lewis Hook although the two linesman - there was no referee - couldn’t remember with Lewis Christie the correct beneficiary.

The couple of goals then added by the Allstars before the period break could have had more to do with goalie Stephen Wall’s decision to position himself on top of the net than Irvine’s and Wiklander’s shooting prowess.

The second period comprised a series of tests with Lightning winning the best of three hardest shot competition and the fastest skater when Phillips took on McEwen.

The Allstars edged the penalty shoot out although Adam Carr did pull one back when outdid his Streatham Redskin brother, Dave.

Going into the third period it was back to a ‘proper’ game - the term used loosely - with two goals apiece for the friendly rivals, not that the final score really mattered. By then Carr had switched sides to battle for Lightning.

What did matter was the business conducted in the bar afterwards when, among the exhibits auctioned was a framed shirt signed by player Grant McPherson’s long time friend tennis star, Andy Murray. ‘G man’ was unable to take part in the day as he was attending Andy’s wedding at Dunblane Cathedral. That went for several hundred pounds.

The Allstars shirts were also auctioned, raising thousands of pounds for Adam who has called Milton Keynes his home for the past 12 years.

Carr said: “I cannot put into words what tonight felt like. I’m just so honoured that so many people made so much of an effort to play alongside me and come along to watch.”

The previous evening McPherson picked up the coach’s award at the presentation evening at Jurys Inn with Poole describing him as a ‘shining example’ to other players.

Lewis Hook - signed from Peterborough Phantoms last summer - claimed both the most improved player and players’ player accolades.

The award for best defenceman went to Ross Green whose season was ended early when he broke his leg in a freak training session accident.

The remainder of the awards were scooped by import forward Milan Kostourek who took top scorer, most valuable player and supporters’ club prizes. The Czech Republic native was sixth highest points scorer in the English Premier League.

Summing up Lightning’s season, Rausa said the team had finished the campaign well, playing some of their best hockey, and qualifying for the Coventry play-off weekend but had suffered through poor form and injuries earlier on.

He assured fans that while he, Harry and Nick were involved with the club they would endeavour to make the best decisions for the success of the team.