Jason Hewitt impressed by rival Sam Zajac but hopes to see Leeds Chiefs end weekend on low note
WHILE Hull Pirates’ Jason Hewitt admits to having some sympathy for fellow player-coach Sam Zajac, there will clearly be no favours handed out when Leeds Chiefs head to East Yorkshire tomorrow night.
The Chiefs’ found out earlier this week that they must wait until December at the earliest before playing out of their new Elland Road rink due to delays in the construction, with their home opener against Sheffield Steeldogs on November 3 now being played in Blackburn.
The Chiefs were already scheduled to play their first 10 NIHL National games on the road and, after picking up their first win of the season at the sixth attempt against Raiders IHC last Sunday, now head into a weekend that will seriously test their credentials.
Before they visit the Pirates, they first have to negotiate their way past Swindon Wildcats, who last night went top of the table after a last-minute winner saw them beat Sheffield Steeldogs 3-2
Hewitt’s team head to Basingstoke Bison tonight looking to arrest a four-game losing streak, while also dealing with the absence of key players through injury and suspension.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for what Sammy has done because it’s not easy to recruit three or four guys, let alone a whole team like he has had to do this summer,” said Hewitt.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s like not having a rink to play or practice in. I know when ours gets shut it is a nightmare trying to prepare, but Sammy is the kind of guy that can roll with that stuff and keep his guys motivated.”
Zajac said he was surprised to see Hull in the midst of a short slump, but said they were still a team to be wary of.
“It is surprising to see them on the end of a four-game losing run,” said Zajac. “But when you dig a little deeper you can see that they have had key guys out with injuries or suspensions and they have played some very good teams and ran them close, just coming out on the wrong side of close games, a bit like what we’ve done a few times.
“So you can’t read too much into that losing run, we’re definitely not expecting any kind of easy game because they are still stacked with quality.”
Chiefs' forward James Archer returns to face his former team since switching to West Yorkshire in the summer after two successful years in Hull.
Hewitt added: "He’s still got a lot going for him at this level and if you put him with the right guys he can do some damage. He was great for us and offensively he’s experienced and can make good plays.
"I’m glad he’s doing well, to be fair - but he’ll have to earn it when he comes here on Sunday."