Kieran Brown vows Leeds Knights will not be lacking in ambition for 2023-24 NIHL National return
Even though the Knights enjoyed a memorable league and play-off double in 2022-23, there was still a feeling of what might have been.
But for one 10-minute spell in Peterborough in the first leg of the NIHL National Cup in Peterborough, it could have been a treble-winning season.
Not that anyone at the Knights is complaining with their trophy haul in what was only their second season as a franchise.
It was Brown who captained the Knights to their first silverware, an achievement that has only given him and his team-mates the taste to repeat the success next time around - perhaps even going one better.
“It’s about coming back and making sure we maintain the level we reached last season - perhaps even go one better,” said Brown, who for the second season running, finished as the league’s top points scorer.
“There will be some changes in the team over the summer. I don’t know who at the moment - that’s not my call as it is obviously down to Ryan.
“Hopefully, the changes that are made make us stronger as a team and, when you think back to that Cup final first leg game where we didn’t turn up, maybe we can strengthen to the extent that we can look to win everything next year.”
After another impressive campaign for the Knights, Brown attracted the recognition of Great Britain head coach Pete Russell, who named the former Bradford Bulldogs’ junior in his initial squad for this week’s World Championships Division 1A tournament in Nottingham.
But a lower-body injury sustained in the NIHL National play-off final against Raiders IHC in Coventry meant Brown never got a chance to push his claims for a place in the final squad during the GB training camp that followed the domestic season.
Brown still attended the camp, however, meeting up with players and coaches and getting welcome physio treatment from the GB team’s medical team.
He now faces a spell of rehab from his injury before he can skate again.
“I’ve got about five weeks of rehab until I can properly skate again,” added Brown. “It’s never a good time to get an injury – especially with getting called up for GB – but it means I can now take some time off, have a short holiday maybe and then come back and hit it hard and start getting ready for next season.”
• Great Britain made it two wins from two games as they opened up their World Championship Division 1A campaign in Nottingham.
Goals from Ben Lake, Robert Dowd, Cade Neilson and Liam Kirk sealed a 4-0 win over Korea on Saturday at the Motorpoint Arena, but Pete Russell’s team were taken to overtime less than 24 hours later by Poland before winning 5-4.
Goals from Jonathan Phillips, Kirk, Neilson and Mike Hammond saw GB end 60 minutes tied at 4-4, despite being ahead with only 90 seconds to go.
But the 3-on-3 overtime saw Lake be the hero when he slotted home the winner for the extra point.