Telford Tigers come to Planet Ice on Saturday for the first meeting since Milton Keynes Lightning beat them to win the English Premier League play-offs in 2017.
It was Lightning’s last game at that level before their two year sojourn in the Elite League – and they went out in style on that day at the Coventry Skydome. MK won 7-2 with Leigh Jamieson, the only member of the team with the current team (bar Lewis Christie), scoring the third goal to establish a 3-0 lead at the start of the second period. Our own Brodie Jesson was playing for Tigers in that final.
Since then Telford have twice finished third in the NIHL1 and go into this weekend second in the new NIHL while Lightning will be looking for their second victory of the season to lift themselves up the table from ninth place.
Tigers bring a wealth of experience in their team – three players, Jonathan Weaver, Rick Plant and Jason Silverthorn, are over 40 years old while Finley Howells is the youngest at 16 years old, about the same age as Weaver when he made his debut for the long defunct Durham Wasps team in the 1992-1993 season.
In fact Weaver’s CV reads like a history of British ice hockey with time spent with Newcastle Cobras, Ayr Scottish Eagles and the old Manchester Storm in the long gone Superleague and then Newcastle Vipers, Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers in the Elite League.
British-Canadian dual national Silverthorn spent seven years plying his trade in the Elite competition, seeing time with Cardiff Devils and Hull Stingrays before joining Telford in 2014 – the same year as Weaver signed up in Shropshire.
Telford born Plant will be a familiar name to long time Milton Keynes fans. Starting his career with Tigers he spent a solitary season with the first MK Kings organisation in 1995-1996 before the rink closed for two years. He went on to join Swindon Ice Lords before spending most of following 14 seasons with Guildford Flames, finally going home to Telford six years ago.
Leading scorer is Czech import Dominik Florian with five goals and four assists in tenth place in the league rankings while MK’s Tomas Kana occupies sixth spot with five goals and five assists.
Other Telford players with a lot of experience to look out for are forwards Scott McKenzie and Andy McKinney, both of whom have spent time with Elite League clubs, while defenceman Danny Rose should not be overlooked.
Face off on Saturday is 7pm. Tickets are available in advance from Planet Ice on 01908 540020 and online here. On Sunday Lightning renew acquaintance with their biggest EPL rivals, Peterborough Phantoms, at Planet Ice, Peterborough, face off 5.30pm. Look out for the preview of that encounter on ITV news at 6pm tomorrow.