How James Archer and Radek Meidl are leading the production line for Leeds Chiefs

SOMETIMES it can take team-mates weeks, maybe evenmonths, before they fully understand how each other works, other times the chemistry arrives almost instantly.

By Phil Harrison
Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 7:35 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 2:36 am
TOP COMBINATION: Radek Meidl is congratulated on his second goal against Bracknell Bees by James Archer, right and Adam Barnes.  
Picture courtesy of Kevin Slyfield.
TOP COMBINATION: Radek Meidl is congratulated on his second goal against Bracknell Bees by James Archer, right and Adam Barnes. Picture courtesy of Kevin Slyfield.

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The latter certainly seems to be the case so far for Leeds Chiefs’ James Archer and Radek Meidl, their productiveness on the top line being one of the main positives of the club’s inaugural campaign in NIHL National.

The wins may have so far proved elusive for Sam Zajac’s team, but the ability of Archer and his Czech Republic team-mate to produce the goods in the offensive zone is a big reason why the newcomers have been able to remain competitive in games.

Leeds Chiefs' James Archer, in action against MK Lightning. Picture courtesy of Tony Sargent

Meidl, 30, is the team’s leading goalscorer with five in four games, as well as three assists. Archer’s points tally is the same, but in reverse, seen more as the creator for the former Milton Keynes Lightning forward.

Initially, player-coach Zajac envisaged both players being part of different line combinations at the start of the season, but after seeing the way they connected on the ice for the first time together at a practice session in Bradford last month, he adapted his plans.

“We only stepped on the ice in Bradford for the first time a few weeks ago – he’d just literally stepped off a plane a couple of hours earlier – but we worked a few times together on drills and we just seemed to really link up quite well.

“Sammy and me had spoken in the summer about who he was thinking of pairing me with, but then when he saw that training session, it made him think again.

“But that is how it is sometimes, people just click and other times it has to be worked on but, at the minute, we just seem to understand each other and it is working and it is showing in the points we are producing.”

Adam Barnes, on a two-way deal from Elite League outfit Manchester Storm, saw himself moved up to Meidl and Archer’s line at the weekend in a combination that Zajac is likely to stick with for Sunday’s trip to Peterborough Phantoms.

And the coach is convinced it won’t be long before he gets the secondary scoring he is looking for from his other lines, relieving the pressure on his top trio.

“It’s great to see Radek and James forming that chemistry early on,” said Zajac. “I keep telling Radek that he has all the tools to be an absolutely dominant player in this league and you saw it over the weekend.

“He scored four goals but he is unplayable when he is on his game, so to have a guy in James who reads off him well and can give him the puck in those dangerous areas is exactly what we want. On the first weekend we went with slightly different combinations, trying to spread it across all three lines but I think that top line now with those two and Barnesey is going to be really big for us.”

Zajac was also pleased with the contribution of his third line of Steven Moore, Joe Coulter and Ethan Hehir, who excelled in frustrating the offence of both Lightning and the Bees at the weekend.

“All three of those guys worked hard, they were tough to play against and they didn’t concede a goal on the Saturday and we let eight in, so you really can’t ask for any more from them,” added Zajac.

“And they are dangerous going forward too. It is just that secondary scoring we’re missing off the second line, but I’m sure that will come.”