Lanarkshire Lightning Junior Ice Hockey Club is hoping a newly-formalised partnership with Paisley Pirates will be the catalyst for continued growth over the next few years.
The agreement will potentially provide young players with a pathway to progress from beginner level through to the Scottish National League (SNL).
The link-up, announced in the run-up to Christmas, will be driven by Lightning head coach Martyn King and Pirates’ boss Ian Turley.
Jim Paterson, Chair of Lanarkshire Lightning, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our players. They will now get the opportunity to take their development on to an even higher level, by having the chance to train and play with the Pirates. Hopefully some of them will go on to play for Paisley in the SNL when the time comes.
“In the few short years since the Lightning were formed, our youngsters have progressed at an astonishing rate due to the excellent opportunities and coaching that they’ve had the opportunity to experience so far, and our new link with the Pirates ensures that such progression will continue to an even higher level.
“It also maps out a direct path for potential new members who perhaps see themselves playing at SNL or above in the years to come, regardless of the level at which they are at currently.
“It shows that by becoming a member of Lanarkshire Lightning they are likely to receive the very best of development opportunities all the way through to senior level.”
Lightning currently run teams at three junior levels, with each one currently producing solid performances in their respective age groups.
The organisation works hard to develop young talent and its efforts were recently rewarded when seven Lightning players were called up to Scotland’s Conference squads this season.
Paterson hopes the club’s most promising youngsters can follow in the footsteps of some former and current players to make their mark at senior level.
“Our club already has strong links with the Pirates through former players such as Martyn King, John Wilson, Michael Chubb, Colin McMillan and Robert Henderson,” he added.
“Current Pirates John Russell and Warren Crawford are involved in our coaching team and their own kids are progressing through the ranks with us, so these new links only strengthen the strong ties we already have with them.”
(Image permission: Duncan Speirs)