Leeds Knights: Dave Whistle pleased to welcome back captain Sam Zajac for crunch weekend against Swindon Wildcats and Milton Keynes Lightning

DAVE WHISTLE is glad to welcome back captain Sam Zajac to the Leeds Knights line-up for the kind of tough 48 hours that will test his team’s title credentials to the max.

By Phil Harrison
Saturday, 8th January 2022, 7:15 am
Updated Saturday, 8th January 2022, 9:53 am
BACK IN THE GAME: Leeds Knights captain Sam Zajac is back in the line-up for the weekend's NIHL National clashes with Swindon Wildcat and Milton Keynes Lightning Picture: James Hardisty
BACK IN THE GAME: Leeds Knights captain Sam Zajac is back in the line-up for the weekend's NIHL National clashes with Swindon Wildcat and Milton Keynes Lightning Picture: James Hardisty

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.

Read More

Read More
Leeds Knights: Archie Hazeldine edges closer to realising his Great Britain drea...

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Leeds Knights coach David Whistle Picture: James Hardisty.

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.

Swindon Wildcats' player-coach Aaron Nell welcomes back seven key players for Saturday night's visit from Leeds KNights. Picture: Kat Medcroft.

“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.”

MORE - How Kieran Brown is delivering on Matty Davies’ great expectations

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.