Lightning chief won’t gamble club’s future to win trophies

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Their season may have failed to deliver the trophy they so badly wanted, but Lightning can still look back on the last seven months with a great deal of pride.

That’s the message from Vito Rausa who watched his team give English Premier League champions Guildford Flames a real scare before losing 3-2 in their epic play-off semi final clash on Saturday.

The Lightning chairman was bitterly disappointed to leave Coventry with nothing to show for their season. But he insisted that the stability of the club would not be put at risk to win silverware,

It’s now three years since Lightning were crowned EPL champions, while Guildford retained their title this season to overtake the city side as the league’s most successful club, having now finished top of the table four times to Lightning’s three.

However, Lightning still hold the record for most end of season play-off successes, lifting the trophy four years on the spin between 2003 and 2006.

Rausa would love the club to return to those glory days in the near future, but he is not prepared to gamble their financial stability to get back there.

He said: “We currently run at a minuscule loss. It’s really insignificant. I want us to win trophies, but we won’t change our way of doing things to try and do so.

“If you look at Guildford, they probably operate with a budget twice the size of ours. But we totally outplayed them on Saturday and should have won.

“If we had won then I think we could have gone on to win the trophy. All of the players gave 100 per cent – we could not have asked for any more.

“I just felt we needed to get the third goal. The Guildford coach said after that no other team has battered them like we did in the second period. I think he said we ‘absolutely mauled’ them.”

Lightning’s play-off dream was shattered with less than three minutes to go when Nathan Rempel struck to send Flames into the final, which they went on to lose 5-2 to Manchester Phoenix on Sunday.

Captain Adam Carr scored the opening goal in the first period before Jozef Kohut’s strike drew Flames level. But Lightning took a 2-1 lead into the final period when Michael Farn made their dominance count.

It wasn’t enough though as David Longstaff fired through goalie Stephen Wall’s legs to make it 2-2 early in the third period, before Rempel’s lucky strike deflected in to book the Surrey side a place in the final.

Despite seeing their hopes of winning the trophy cruelly snatched away, Rausa said it has been a good season for the club, and thanked the fans for making it a memorable day.

“I think there were about 500 of them there, and they were incredible,” he said. “They were certainly the loudest fans there. It was like playing a home game.

“I think it’s been another good season. It has probably been the most competitive it has for a long time if you look at the results we’ve seen. The fans have watched some very good ice hockey.

“We need to make sure we keep the majority of the squad together, and that’s something Nick (Poole) is starting to work on already.

“But I know they all want to stay, so that’s a great starting point for him.”