The battle for local pride is expected to be hotter than ever this weekend when Milton Keynes Lightning take on Peterborough Phantoms in their annual Ashes challenge matches over two legs on 15-16 September. Games between the two sides are always hotly-contested, but several player transfers between the two sides this summer will ensure an extra edge to this weekend's fixtures.
Lightning defenceman Tom Norton signed for the Phantoms during the close season on a two-way contract with Nottingham Panthers, joined by forward Jamie Line, a product of the Lightning youth scheme. Meanwhile Lightning's defensive ranks are reinforced by the addition of former Phantoms stalwart, netminder Stephen Wall, who left Peterborough last November to seek a new challenge.
Slovakian defenceman Jozef Sladok has signed for the Phantoms after two seasons in the Elite league, joined by fellow EIHL D-man James Hutchinson. Young Robert Ferrara makes the move from NIHL2 Peterborough Islanders to join brothers Luke and James, whilst forwards Lewis Hook and Jordan Cownie joined from the Peterborough and Dundee youth sides respectively. Import forwards Ondrej Lauko and Maris Ziedins - jointly responsible for a third of the Phantoms' goals last year - have both committed to the team for another season, as does Canadian Jeff Glowa.
One import not returning, however, is Canadian Chris Allen. After the team finished eighth in the EPL last year, Allen was not offered a return to the Phantoms this season and has signed for Solihull Barons. Another departee was Richie Bentham who has moved to Manchester Phoenix.
"The Lightning go into this weekend's fixtures on the back of a solid 3-0 victory over Telford Tigers last weekend when Adam Calder, Adam Brittle and Leigh Jamieson all found the back of the net."