How Leeds Knights are showing they are made of ‘the right stuff’ in NIHL National Autumn Cup
LEEDS KNIGHTS’ head coach Dave Whistle is confident his players will continue to play ‘the right way’ as they look to assure themselves of a semi-final spot in the NIHL Autumn Cup this weekend.
The Knights head to Buckinghamshire tonight to face a Milton Keynes Lightning team fresh from beating Swindon Wildcats 5-4 in overtime on Thursday.
A win - ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Elland Road from Peterborough Phantoms (5.15pm face-off) - will assure the Knights of a place in the last four and maintain their 100 per cent win record in the competition with two group games remaining.
After some initial concerns about defensive awareness, Whistle is pleased with how his team have bought in to playing the two-way game he wants them to adopt.
“What’s satisfying to see is the way that we are now skating back and trying to back-check as hard as we can, trying to put back pressure on players that have the puck,” said Whistle.
“Offensively, we’ve been really good at jumping in the corners quickly, putting pressure on players to make bad plays and we’ve been able to capitalise on some of those.
“The players have done a great job over the last three weeks or so and, right now, we’re playing the right way.
“I know we have an offensively-minded team but we don’t want to just rely on that offence.
“I want us to win games 2-1 or 3-2, so we have to do all the little things to win those kinds of games.
“Essentially they are buying in to how I want them to play - it’s been really good.”
Matty Davies is unavailable for a third straight game tonight but may be back in the line-up to face Peterborough, while 17-year-old Mack Stewart, who impressed last weekend in Davies’s absence, won’t feature this time around as he was called up by Belfast Giants for Friday night’s Challenge Cup clash at Elite League rivals Fife Flyers.
However, the teenager - who posted three assists in the 10-4 home win over Raiders last Sunday - could be back in Leeds for the three games in three days that the Knights have coming up, starting with their final Autumn Cup group game against Sheffield Steeldogs at Ice Sheffield on Friday night.