Leeds Knights 8 Swindon Wildcats 5: Four-point weekend puts Knights in the mix for NIHL National top two

LEEDS KNIGHTS propelled themselves into the mix for a top two finish in NIHL National after posting the perfect four-point weekend over rivals Swindon Wildcats.

By Phil Harrison
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 2:26 pm

Their exhilarating 8-5 win at Elland Road on Sunday night came on the back of a 5-4 win after a shootout in Swindon the previous night. It leaves the Knights just four points off second-placed Wildcats with 10 regular season games remaining.

This Saturday sees leaders Telford Tigers visit Elland Road, with the Knights hitting the road 24 hours later for a last visit of the regular season to Raiders IHC.

Weekend losses for fellow top two hopefuls Sheffield Steeldogs and Milton Keynes Lightning further enhanced the Knights' claims.

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BIRTHDAY BASH: Kieran Brown, above, scored two goals and three assists in the 8-5 win over Swindon Wildcats. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

It was birthday boy Kieran Brown who led the way for the Knights on home ice, celebrating his 21st with two goals and three assists, the Knights at times playing some pulsating hockey.

After going 6-1 ahead just before the halfway point, it appeared as if the game was done and dusted, but Aaron Nell's team had other ideas, pulling it back to 6-4 by the end of the second.

The Knights pulled away again through a Cole Shudra effort at 47.48 but, with goalie Dean Skinns pulled, the Wildcats narrowed the gap again as they lay siege in the Knights' zone, Balint Pakozdi making it 7-5 with three-and-a-half minutes remaining.

But, as the visitors pushed harder still, they left themselves open at the back end, allowing Harry Gulliver to make the points safe with his second of the night - Adam Barnes also bagged a couple - into an empty net with 70 seconds remaining.

Adam Barnes scored two goals and two assists in Sunday's win over Swindon Wildcats. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

On Saturday, Matty Davies put the Knights ahead in the sixth minute before Tomasz Malasinski levelled at 11.38. Brown restored the lead at 20.34 but, again, the hosts proved their equal when Sam Bullas equalised at 24.44.

Swindon then went ahead just after the halfway point through Pakozdi, although Brown was able to level with 15 seconds of the period remaining.

Swindon got their noses in front through a second from Pakozdi early in the third but once Ross Kennedy forced home a rebound from his initial shot, that was how the game stayed, even through three-on-three overtime.

Once it came to penalties, Cole Shudra and Archie Hazeldine found a way past Dean Skinns to secure the extra point, with only Pakozdi beating Sam Gospel at the other end.