The 32-year-old veteran defenceman has played just once since the 5-3 win at Bees IHC on December 5, that being the second leg of the Autumn Cup Final defeat to Swindon Wildcats.
But he will be on the coach heading for Wiltshire today to take on Swindon, as well as lead ing out the Knights on home ice tomorrow against Milton Keynes Lightning, who replaced Aaron Nell’s team as NIHL National leaders with last night’s 7-4 win at home to Basingstoke Bison.
The Knights could do with making up ground on both, currently sitting fifth in the table, 10 points back from the new leaders, with Swindon one behind.
And Whistle certainly believes having Zajac back marshalling his team’s blue line enhances their prospects for what would be a welcome four-point weekend.
“It will be great to have Sam back,” said Whistle. “He’s a good leader for us and he has been a big miss – it’s always a big miss when you’re without players like him.
“He just helps bring that stability to the back end, he does the right play almost all the time, he is physical in the corners and just a really good all-round player.
“He’s a great leader both on and off the ice and I know that the rest of the players really respect him.
“It’s a good weekend for him to come back as it’s a tough two games we’ve got coming up.
“Swindon are back to something like full strength and then we have Milton Keynes on Sunday. It’s a hard weekend for us, but anybody that we’ve got back and who is healthy has to be a good thing.”
Whistle also hopes to have fellow defenceman Ben Solder for both games, unless he is subject to a last-minute recall by parent club Manchester Storm, who were set to let Leeds know last night on the availability of forward Harry Gulliver.
Wildcats’ player-coach Aaron Nell will indeed be buoyed after having it confirmed he will see seven of his players back for Saturday night’s showdown. Tomasz Malasinski, Edgars Bebris, Ben Nethersell, Sam GodfreyWhite, Reed SayersWhite, Floyd Taylor and Jack Goodchild are all clear to play.
Sheffield Steeldogs last night suffered a dent to their title hopes when they were hammered 5-0 at home by Raiders IHC, their sixth defeat in their last seven games.