How player-coach Sam Zajac is making a good first impression with Leeds Chiefs

LEEDS CHIEFS’ player-coach Sam Zajac has made a big impression on his players in his rookie season in the role, according to Andres Kopstals.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 5:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 10:03 pm
CLEAR THE LINES: Andres Kopstals, left and player-coach Sam Zajac look to move up the ice after a Milton Keynes move breaks down. Picture courtesy of Tony Sargent.

The 30-year-old defenceman beat off fierce competition to be boss of the UK game’s newest franchise back in May and has had to deal with plenty of adversity.

Building a competitive team from scratch was a daunting enough prospect, while the difficulties brought about from not yet having a rink to practice or play out of have certainly made life challenging.

After several years in the OHL and then the university USports League, Kopstals has seen his fair share of quality coaches and has been nothing but impressed by his current boss.

Sam Zajac, far right, runs through some drills with his Leeds Chiefs players during an early practice session at Bradford.

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“I know it is his first time, but, if you didn’t know, you would think he’d been doing it for years,” said Kopstals. “He’s calm but he gets fired up when he needs to. He really knows the game, he thinks it well and he’s definitely a well-rounded coach.

“So whoever the people are he has learned from, they deserve some credit because he definitely has some great coaching qualities. Once his playing days over – whenever that may be – if he chooses to stay in the game, I believe he would make a fantastic coach.

“Off and on the ice he’s just been top-notch and I’m more than happy to play for him.”