Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Academy Launched

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Ahead of the autumn re-opening of the refurbished Planet Ice Arena in Milton Keynes and in a move to help secure the long-term future of ice hockey in the town, the launch is announced today of the Milton Keynes Ice Hockey Academy (MKIHA).

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it was no secret that when the refurbishment became a reality that we would need help and Planet Ice stepped in not only by offering us an alternative venue and virtually every Saturday for our home games but by also providing important financial backing.

The Academy brings together all of the town's existing Ice hockey teams in a single structure to provide continuity of coaching and a clear progression path for participants of the sport.

Planet Ice provided huge support for the Mk lightning last season, after the rink refurbishment began and which saw the MK Lightning play all their home games in Coventry, a point Vito Rausa, Chairman of the team was very quick to acknowledge, “it was no secret that when the refurbishment became a reality that we would need help and Planet Ice stepped in not only by offering us an alternative venue and virtually every Saturday for our home games but by also providing important financial backing, without which last season would simply not have happened.”

MKIHA has been set up by a working group comprising Planet Ice - owners of the rink in Milton Keynes and eight others throughout the UK and represented by John Neville - Harry Howton a former junior club chairman and one of the founders of a number of prominent local ice hockey teams including co-founding the MK Lightning in 2002 - Vito Rausa and Nick Poole.

Planet Ice Managing Director, John Neville said, “for many years now we have worked together with Vito, Harry and Nick to ensure that the Lightning senior team was able to ice and be competitive. In particular Planet Ice have financed the team during the last few years with the ultimate aim of seeing the team move to its newly refurbished and modern home which will happen at the start of next season. The future is very exciting and we look forward to continuing the great relationship Planet Ice and the MK Lightning have and building on this with the newly formed academy.”

Co-founder of the Milton Keynes Lightning, Vito Rausa, added that securing Nick Poole’s involvement will benefit everyone involved with the Academy organisation. “Nick’s record with the Lightning speaks for itself, as a player and as a coach, but he’s also been involved in developing every single player that has come through the youth system in Milton Keynes over many years. He regularly coaches at MK Storm training sessions and he’s seen some of the town’s best players go on to success in the EPL and at international levels. To have Nick supervising the coaching right across the Academy structure is a huge achievement.”

Coaching at every level will be overseen by the current Director of Junior Development for Milton Keynes and Head Coach for the MK Lightning, Nick Poole. Under Nick's guidance, the Lightning has become one of the most successful sporting teams in Milton Keynes, winning the English Premier League title four times and the EPL Play-Off trophy three times in their twelve year history.

Nick Poole commented the objectives of forming the MKIHA are three-fold:

  •     To provide a clear and fluid development path for players of all abilities, encouraging ‘sport for life’.
  •     To provide a more solid proposition to attract investment for the Academy's development and continuation.
  •     To provide solid foundations for the promotion of ice hockey in Milton Keynes and surrounding areas, for players, coaches, officials and spectators as a worthwhile physical and social activity.

Vito Rausa continued, “The Academy structure will give us the opportunity to achieve more as a collective group than as individual teams acting independently, for the benefit of absolutely everyone involved and I'm delighted that Milton Keynes Lightning will be a part of it.”

Harry Howton said, “The Academy represents a natural progression by bringing together all of MK’s teams, in a way that will give long term benefits to them, their players and supporters - as well as taking ice hockey to a wider audience and securing the future of the sport in Milton Keynes.”

The new Academy structure will comprise the town's junior organisation, MK Storm; National Ice Hockey League team, MK Thunder; recreational teams MK Rumble, MK Jesters, MK Hurricanes and Storm Wreck; ladies' team MK Falcons; also the MK Sledge Hockey team and Learn to Play organisations. Sitting alongside the Academy will be MK's English Premier League side, MK Lightning who will provide help and assistance to the academy and in so doing provide the final link in the pathway from a player starting in the Learn to Play programme being able to work through the system culminating with the chance of pulling on a Lightning jersey.

John Neville commented, “all at Planet Ice are really excited that soon we will be back in Milton Keynes welcoming not only the areas ice hockey players but also figure skaters and the general public to skate at the refurbished facility. There is no doubt that this is the start of a new era for ice sports in Milton Keynes in its revamped home.”

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Heath Rhodes
Ice Media Productions
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