Opponents: Leeds Chiefs
Date: Saturday September 28th
Key timings: Doors Open 18:00. Warm-up 18:20. Face-off 19:00
National Ice Hockey League newbies Leeds Chiefs come to Smith Milton Keynes Lightning at Planet Ice on Saturday looking for their first win – in common with their hosts.
Leeds are playing their first NIHL games on the road as their new rink next to Leeds United FC’s Elland Road ground is not ready until early November. They lost their first encounters with Sheffield Steeldogs 3-1 and Telford Tigers 5-2 while Lightning went close to gaining their first points last weekend with a 5-4 loss to Hull Pirates and a 6-4 defeat at Sheffield.
Although the name of Leeds Chiefs is new to the competition there are plenty of familiar names in the side, including James Archer, who spent a year with MKL when they finished runners-up to Peterborough Phantoms in the old English Premier League in 2008-2009. Last season Sheffield-born Archer spent with Hull where he recorded his best ever points haul – 28 goals and 36 assists for a total of 64 points. After leaving MK he spent six years with Manchester Phoenix and then returned to Peterborough for a single term, having been on their books in the mid-2000s.
A more recent Lightning player, Czech, Radek Meidl, posted 17 points in his single Elite League campaign. He is, so far, Chiefs’ only import – the team also having recruited a dual national, Toronto born Andres Kopstals, who holds both UK and Canadian passports. The forward is on his first year in European hockey having played for the University of Guelph in the USports League where he totalled six points from 24 outings.
Andrew Hirst who can play centre or left wing has spent most of his career with Sheffield-based teams including Steeldogs (previously known as Scimitars) where he was on the books for ten years apart from short spell with Hull.
Player coach is defenceman, Sam Zajac, probably best known to MK fans for his time with Telford where he was a team-mate of goalie Sam Gospel who has joined from Nottingham Panthers.
Thirty-two-year-old D-man Luke Boothroyd has made the step back up from the NIHL1 where he was with Blackburn Hawks for two years – before that he was a long serving member of the failed Manchester Phoenix EPL team and then spent time with Hull.
Chiefs will certainly be no pushovers and Lightning will know they will have to be at their best to stop them gaining their first win. Face off on Saturday is 7pm – tickets are available in advance on 01908 540020 or online here.