Milton Keynes Lighting have appointment GB Senior Head Coach Pete Russell as its new Director of Hockey and Head Coach.
Russell’s managerial and coaching career began in his native Scotland and includes experience with Bracknell Bees, Cardiff Devils, Slough Jets, Swindon Wildcats and most recently the Okanagan Ice Hockey Academy.
After taking the reins at Slough, the Jets won the EPL playoff title at the first attempt, his U18s team at Okanagan Ice Hockey Academy recently enjoyed a shutout victory over the Coventry Blaze U18s to take the National Plate Final.
He also guided the GB under 20s to gold and promotion at the World Championships and most recently as Head Coach of the GB senior programme who last weekend secured a Silver medal at the World Championships in Eindhoven, Holland.
Russell said: “I am really looking forward to working in Milton Keynes with the Lightning programme, we have a strong vision which I am honoured to be part of and I look forward to taking the programme forward”. Pete continued,” I have a philosophy of how the game should be played and I can’t wait to implement it in MK, we will aim to build an exciting hockey team which we can all be proud of.”
As part of the restructuring, last season’s Head Coach Nick Poole has taken on the role of General Manager.
Poole will continue with the great work he has being doing off the ice with the supporters club, match night volunteers, local schools and the community at large in building the MK Lightning brand, as well as remaining actively involved on the ice with both the Junior and Senior teams in MK.
“Obviously at first there was a sense of disappointment that I would not be coaching the team,” Poole said. “But after a few weeks of reflection I can see the benefits of a change of responsibility and new direction.
“I have enjoyed every moment behind the bench, but I am really excited about continuing the great work we started last year in filling the rink and helping to create a better overall product.
“I am also excited about working with Pete and next year’s team. I know we will do everything in our power to push MK back up the table, compete for silverware and continue to give the supporters the best night out in MK”.
John Neville, on behalf of MKL said: “The opportunity to sign a coach of Pete’s pedigree, supported by Nick’s new role ensures we have a strong management structure for the future and we hope it won’t be long until hockey fans see the benefits and we can put another Lightning bolt on the back of the team jerseys.
“As an organisation we fully support Pete and IHUK to continue his good work with his GB duties and he will look to ensure he combines his roles for the benefit of British Ice Hockey.
“As anyone who knows me will realise how passionate I am about the national team and how much the programme means to me.
“Harry Howton and Vito Rausa started the MK Lightning 14 years ago, 12 years as operators under licence and the last two years helping to manage the organisation. During this period they have taken the MKL brand from start up, to an established power in the EPL and assisted in ensuring that the MKL have a superb new facility to play out of.
“The fact that Harry and Vito will remain in their active role with the supporters ensures the ethos of the club as a family organisation will remain.”