Hot-shot Adam Barnes having major impact for Leeds Chiefs

IT may have taken a short while, but Adam Barnes is now having the desired impact at Leeds Chiefs.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 8:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 8:36 am
ON THE MARK: Adam Barnes, pictured in action against Telford earlier this season, is Leeds Chiefs' leading scorer with nine goals this season. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

Signed late in the summer on a two-way deal from Elite League outfit Manchester Storm, the 20-year-old forward took a short time to adjust to his new surroundings with the sports’ newest franchise.

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BUY - Tickets on sale for Leeds Chiefs NIHL National games in Blackburn and WidnesIt has become the go-to line for the Chiefs during their first-ever season, so far contributing 24 of the team’s 32 goals this season, a campaign which got even better when the Chiefs lifted themselves off the bottom of the NIHL National standings for the first time since the second weekend with victory at Milton Keynes Lightning.

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And while the secondary scoring Zajac was looking for in recent weeks has now started to come through, Barnes himself has played a major part in the turnaround in results.

His tally of nine goals plus three assists in the last six games is a return which has him out in front as the team’s top goalscorer, although he is quick to point out the contributions of those around him.

“In them first few games I was struggling to find my stride and now I’m starting to get comfortable and getting used to the flow of the games,” said the Burnley-born forward.

“I’m just trying to do my bit for the boys because it is not a singular effort. The other lines are all doing their bit too.

“Sammy found that chemistry when he decided to mix the lines up more after those first few games and it just sort of happened, we just felt comfortable together from the off in that first game together.”

Having spent a season finding his feet in the Elite League with Storm, Barnes stepped down to the newly-constructed second tier looking to gain more ice time and be regarded as an impact player.

Prior to his year at Altrincham under Storm head coach Ryan Finnerty, Barnes was another to come through the Bradford Bulldogs junior system under head coach Andy Brown. He then decided to try North America, spending two years in the college system before spending a year in the USA’s EHL, a tier-three junior league.

The return home brought more than 50 appearances for the Storm, with one goal and two assists to his name.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Adam Barnes, far right, celebrates one of his two goals at Milton Keynes last Sunday with player-coach Sam Zajac, left, and Lewis Baldwin. Picture courtesy of Tony Sargent.

“I went over there to see what the whole Canadian hockey life was like and how their junior system worked compared to ours,” said Barnes.

“It was a bit of a shock at first, just with being on the ice every day and the games – it’s not what you can get over here at that age, but I got used to it in the end.

“I got my diploma and then went to the US in the EHL. It was a good league, I got on the ice every day – the access over there is just at another level. I did greatly benefit from my time over there.”

Barnes believes he is benefitting from the increased sense of responsibility he has been handed at Leeds.

“For me, it is just the ice time,” he added. “I wouldn’t get as much ice time at Storm and at Leeds I’d be more of an impact player which, at the end of the day, is what I want to be,”

The improvement seen in the Chiefs, who have won three of their last five games, has come despite not yet having a rink to play or train out of.

Their first scheduled ‘home’ game this Sunday against Sheffield Steeldogs has had to be moved to Blackburn, with two other games being played there in November, with another at Widnes.

At least the Chiefs will be familiar with the Blackburn ice having trained there in midweek for the past seven weeks. And while that may be ideal in terms of it being only a 10-minute journey for Barnes, he is as desperate as anybody to get into Elland Road as soon as possible.

“Once we’re in that new rink, I feel we will kick on even more,” added Barnes.

“As soon as we start having a few more training sessions each week, we’re going to find out how much better we can be and I genuinely believe we will become one of the teams to watch out for.

“We seriously believe we can make the playoffs – I don’t feel we’ve got anything to worry about in terms of reaching the playoffs.”