Big decisions on the horizon for MK Lightning coach Pete Russell

Pete Russell was suffering from two different kinds of headache after MK Lightning completed the double on Sunday - one was self-induced, the other is who to say goodbye to in the close season.

Tuesday, 11th April 2017, 9:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:03 pm
MK Lightning celebrate their play-off final victory. Pic: Tony Sargent

His side's sensational 7-2 win over league champions Telford Tigers saw them win the play-off final in Coventry Skydome - the team's final match at EIHPL level before stepping up to the Elite League next season.

The step up in quality inevitably means Lightning will have to bid farewell to some fan favourites, and it is leaving Russell with some tough decisions on his hands.

"I've got some big decisions to make," he said. "I've made some, but there are other areas I have to look at too. I've got to meet players in the next few days and next weekend, but I've got to go away with GB for the World Championships. So when I get back, it will be full steam ahead, pushing the club into the shop window to promote how great we are. It will be a huge challenge, we know that, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Pic: Tony Sargent

"There will definitely be players who can make the step up."

Lightning's performance in the play-offs - scoring 15 goals on their way to the win - saw them sign off from the Premier League in emphatic style. And after their Premier League Cup victory over Peterborough Phantoms last month, Lightning's unique double has made Russell's decisions even harder.

He added: "I think the world of that dressing room, and it's amazing when you get that back. They're a great bunch.

"It's pretty awesome! The last three weeks have been massive and it really came right at the right time. Our two best performances came in the finals this season, so that shows a lot about the character of our team.

Pic: Tony Sargent

"The final was the most I've enjoyed coaching this team. We were on a different level It looked like we came together as one, and we were on fire. It was absolutely amazing.

"You never really expect to beat the league champions 7-2, they finished number one. We scored 15 goals in the two games - I don't remember another team ever doing that in the play-offs. It just proves how good we are. We've come through the last 24 months as a team, and we've proven it all in one performance.

"All weekend, our fans were the loudest - they made the weekend for us. We came back to the rink in MK and there were a few hundred fans waiting for us too. These are things you never forget and these are the moments you do it for. These memories will stick with us forever.

"The game kicks you a lot, so when it's not, you've got to enjoy it when you can."

Pic: Tony Sargent
Pic: Tony Sargent
Pic: Tony Sargent
Pic: Tony Sargent