Joe Coulter convinced Leeds Chiefs can be NIHL National contenders
The versatile forward is the fifth confirmed name on the Chiefs’ roster for 2020-21 after enjoying an impressive first season away from his native Scotland.
The 25-year-old had a slow start for the new franchise in their debut campaign but, by the time the season was ended somewhat abruptly by the coronavirus pandemic, had made himself one of player-coach Sam Zajac’s most trusted and respected lieutenants.
As one of the team’s alternate captains, Coulter contributed 20 points in 44 games, including seven goals, and was one of just three ever-presents for the Chiefs, alongside Zajac and fellow Scot, Steven Moore.
It was a decent return in what was a difficult first campaign for the Chiefs as an organisation, the well-documented issues with having no home rink until two thirds into the season having a number of understandable knock-on effects, mainly on the team’s ability to be consistently competitive.
But former Solway Sharks forward Coulter is looking forward to enjoying a season in which the Chiefs can start out on a level playing field with their rivals .
“I think we’ve got a point to prove this time around, there really are no excuses,” said Coulter.
“It will be good to get back in the rink for a fresh start and be on a more level playing field with all the other teams and see what kind of damage we can do.
“It will make a refreshing change to have nothing to worry about other than turning up to the rink to practise and play at the weekend.
“It is as simple as that. It was too easy to play the blame game and use the circumstances of last season as an excuse whenever there was a bad result - whether it was not being able to practise as much as other teams, or not being able to play proper home games for the majority of the season.
“Now there are no excuses - we will be on a par with everybody else in the division, starting out from the same point.”
Coulter is the fourth signing announcement made by the Chiefs in as many weeks, with goaltender Sam Gospel and defenceman Lewis Baldwin also returning with Zajac, while former Sheffield Steelers’ forward Kieran Brown is also on board having asked to be released by the Elite League club.
Coulter believes the signings already made, as well as others in the pipeline, should make the Chiefs a genuinely competitive prospect next time around, certainly not a team who will be scratching around at the bottom of the regular season standings again.
It is that belief and his ability to settle so quickly into West Yorkshire life after upping sticks and leaving his hometown of Dumfries for the first time last summer that made Coulter’s decision to return such an easy one.
“It was a fun locker room and I had some really great team-mates,” said Coulter.
“There are no regrets at all from me. I loved my time on the ice last season, but also off the ice.
“We had so much fun, especially moving to a new city. I come from a small town in Scotland, so a big city like Leeds just caught me and I loved it completely.
“It was a huge reason why I wanted to come back, I wanted to come and live in the city again. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to catch some Premier League games now that Leeds United are back where they belong in the Premier League!
“But Leeds is a sporting city, that was always obvious, there is an appetite for sport in the city and having Leeds back in the top-flight can only be a good thing for the city as a whole.”
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