It has been 18 long months, but MK Lightning are set to face off in Milton Keynes again this Saturday.
The totally overhauled Planet Ice will open it’s doors to Lightning fans once more for the game against Sheffield Steeldogs and will be almost unrecognisible to regulars at the Thunderdome.
Lightning ended their secondment in Coventry last weekend with a victory over Bracknell Bees (see page 68), but General Manager Vito Rausa says the team’s season won’t really feel like it has started until they’re ready to take to the ice in MK again.
“I cannot wait for the lights to go down, and for the lightning to strike,” he said. “And I say that with a lump in my throat.
“We are so excited to be back in Milton Keynes. It has been difficult, but everyone has worked so hard to give us a fantastic new facility that everyone in the town can be proud of.
“This is the culmination of a 10-year battle. There were times when we thought there wouldn’t be ice in Milton Keynes. But now the next generation of players can come through in a brand new rink.”
While builders and fitters will be working every hour they can to ensure the rink and surrounding area is safe for fans this coming Saturday, Rausa praised coach Nick Poole and the Lightning roster for their patience and dedication to the cause in the past 18 months.
He said: “The players and coaches have been working so hard.
“They’ve been leaving work at about 5pm, heading to pick up their kit, driving to Coventry, training, and not getting home until 2am.
“We could have mothballed the team for a year, but that would let a lot of people down.
“So we struggled on for a year to go backwards and forwards between here and Coventry.
“Without Planet Ice it would never have been possible.
“The fans will be in for a real shock!”