Lightning to discuss the future with fans

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Lightning supporters will get their chance to quiz the club’s management next week in a special fans’ forum called to discuss their likely move to Coventry next season.

News of a £40 million project to refurbish the city’s ice rink and develop the Leisure Plaza were revealed last Thursday, leaving Lightning and other ice-using clubs to search for alternative venues for at least the next 12 months while work is carried out.

The solution for Lightning will be a move to Coventry to play their home fixtures for the 20013/14 season, while the city’s other ice hockey clubs continue to consider options available to them.

Now that the realisation of Planet Ice closing for at least a year has settled in, Lightning chairman Vito Rausa will take questions from supporters on Tuesday night. He says he has been pleased with the initial reaction from the fans, but he is also keen to listen to their concerns.

He said: “We always want to be totally transparent about what is going on. I appreciate there will be lots of questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

“Our fans are a class above and I’m sure many of them will want to travel up to Coventry every week. However, we also understand that some might not be able to do that, so we’ll look at hiring coaches as well.

“The important thing for us is that we play Saturdays. We’re a Saturday night team and we can’t expect our fans to travel every Sunday. We’ll be looking to confirm fixture details with the league.”

However, while Lightning already have one eye on where they will play next season, this year’s campaign is coming to a close, with fourth place in the English Premier League table confirmed after Saturday’s highly impressive away win at Basingstoke Bison.

Hopes of finishing in third spot were ended when they lost at home to the same side on Sunday evening, meaning Nick Poole’s men will take on fifth place Slough Jets in the play-off quarter finals – the same side that they conclude their regular season against at Planet Ice this Saturday night.

Lightning took on Slough in the quarter finals last year too – the Berkshire side going on to reach the play-off weekend in Coventry with an 11-10 aggregate win – but this time the all-important second leg will be played in Milton Keynes.

And as the final game to be played in the city for a lengthy period of time, Rausa says his team will be desperate to win.

“We’re going to ask the fans what they want to do to mark the occasion,” he said. “It will be a great night and a chance to go out with a bang. We have got to make sure that we are the team going through this time.

“Our fans deserve to have something to celebrate at the end of the season, especially now, so we will be doing our best to win the play-offs.”