New Lightning coach Clifford returns to 'important' club

New Lightning coach Lewis Clifford
New Lightning coach Lewis Clifford

Former Lightning player Lewis Clifford says he is delighted to return to the club as Head Coach next season.

As a player, “Cliff” spent virtually his entire career in Milton Keynes colours. Aged 20 he signed for the MK Thunder, staying with the team for nine consecutive seasons - a total of 234 competitive fixtures. For his final two seasons with the Thunder, Clifford took the role of Player-Coach.

In 2011 he retired from playing to take on the challenge of Assistant to Player-Coach Nick Poole at the Lightning, who had taken the English Premier League title just 18 months earlier. He remained in his role for six consecutive seasons supporting first Poole then Pete Russell, concluding with helping lead the team to League Cup and PlayOff glory in 2016-17.

Most recently he has also taken on the role of Head Coach for the Milton Keynes Storm Junior Ice Hockey Club, overseeing the development within the town’s junior teams.

“I’m delighted to accept the role as head coach of Milton Keynes Lightning," Clifford said. "Obviously this is a very important time for the club with the change in leagues, the prospect of a different brand of hockey and a different set of players. It will be a challenge for me to assemble a team to excite the fans here in MK but that’s exactly what I’m setting out to do.

“Having been involved heavily with the club through the years, I believe I know what’s needed to get the club back to where it needs to be - and to give our fantastic supporters a team they are proud to call their own.

"I’ve worked alongside two outstanding coaches here previously in Nick Poole and Pete Russell, and if I can even get close to emulating the success those two bought to the club I will be extremely happy."

Owner Graham Moody said he is delighted for the club’s fans that next season’s push will be led by Lewis Clifford.

“Firstly, we’re extremely pleased that Lewis has decided to commit to the club for the season ahead," he said. "He knows exactly what it means to Lightning fans to have a winning team and he’s been part of successful Lightning teams.

"He’s very well known to the MK hockey family and knows his way around the wider British hockey family. We’re confident that he can build and nurture a team that will bring success back to the Lightning.”