As the club continues to shape its roster for next season, Milton Keynes Lightning announce the departure of two of their long-standing forwards, Matt Towalski and Michael "Muzzy" Wales. After two consecutive seasons without silverware, head coach Nick Poole has taken the difficult decision to make changes to the roster in order to invigorate the side ahead of a concerted push for trophies in the 2012-13 season.
Matt, 28, began his hockey career playing for Slough Comets in 2000 before signing for his first full season with the Slough Jets two years later. In 2005 he made the move to the Lightning, where he has given Nick Poole's team seven consecutive seasons of solid hard work, earning a reputation as a determined forward who gives 100 per cent on every shift.
Muzzy began his hockey career with the MK Kings in the 1999 season where he remained until the team folded, then moving to Solihull Barons in 2001. In 2002 he returned to his native Kent to represent Invicta Dynamos, amassing 32 points in 39 games and forging a reputation as a playmaker not to be messed with. This brought him to the attention of Nick Poole at the Lightning who signed him for the 2003 season, helping the team to win the league title in his first three seasons. 2006 saw Muzzy gaining Elite league experience from 20 games with the Coventry Blaze but the following season he returned, this time to stay for five consecutive terms, where he has become a firm favourite with supporters.
"It's always hard to say goodbye to any player - as a coach, it's always a hard decision to reach", Nick Poole commented. "But especially so for players who are such strong characters like Muzzy and Matty. However, we believe that we need to freshen up the team - and for new players to come in, unfortunately that means others have to make way.
"Muzzy is such a strong character in the team - he has been key to many of our successes with his high-energy style of play, and has scored some timely goals, and we know that means he's sure to be a real thorn in our side when we face him on another team.
"Matty is as honest a character as there is; he competes night in and night out with grit, intensity and great skating ability - he has played on all three lines and has been a great assistant captain. For seven years he's travelled up to us, up to four times a week, and has embodied the three things we ask of all our players: commitment, honesty and effort.
"Both of them will always be friends to everyone here at the Lightning, and they leave us with a lot of great memories and our thanks for all of their efforts over the years, and our very best of wishes. And who knows, we may yet see them wearing black and gold again one day."