Netminder Harrison Walker steps up for Leeds Chiefs debut to face Basingstoke Bison

HARRISON WALKER will be handed his first start as Leeds Chiefs’ netminder for Sunday night’s NIHL National clash at Elland Road against Basingstoke Bison.

By Phil Harrison
Sunday, 1st March 2020, 1:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st March 2020, 1:26 pm
YOU'RE IN: Harrison Walker, seen in action for Bradford Bulldogs, gets the start for Leeds Chiefs against Basingstoke Bison tonight. Picture courtesy of Podium Prints.
YOU'RE IN: Harrison Walker, seen in action for Bradford Bulldogs, gets the start for Leeds Chiefs against Basingstoke Bison tonight. Picture courtesy of Podium Prints.

The 17-year-old plays the majority of his hockey for Blackburn Hawks in NIHL North One, having come through the Bradford Bulldogs junior system.

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No 2 goalie Finney left the Chiefs’ last month to become first-choice for Sutton Sting in the division below, leaving Walker to act as back-up to Gospel when not required by the Hawks.

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INJURY BLOW: No 1 netminder Sam Gospel is ruled out of Sunday night's clash with Basingstoke through injury. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

But Gospel is ruled out for Sunday’s clash with the Bison through an upper-body injury that saw him struggle valiantly through Saturday’s 5-1 defeat against Bracknell Bees.

The Chiefs were unable to field a back-up netminder against the Bees, but Widnes Wild Under-18 goalie Jake Lowndes will fill that role against Basingstoke, with Walker getting the start.

“It’s a great opportunity for Harrison,” said Zajac. “He’s a very talented young kid and it’s his first taste of this level, so it will be a good chance to test himself.”

On Gospel’s injury, Zajac added: “He’s been absolutely great all year, but he’s played a lot of hockey.

“He’s been training with Nottingham throughout the week and also training with us as well as playing every game for us. He’s faced a lot of shots at times, especially when we were short on bodies, and it has caught up with him now.

“He’s definitely out for Sunday and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is going to be for a bit longer.”