Leeds Knights: How Kieran Brown is delivering on Matty Davies’ great expectations

WHEN signing for Leeds Knights last summer, one thing Matty Davies was looking forward to the most was playing alongside the team’s young, talented roster.

By Phil Harrison
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 5:33 pm
Kieran Brown is NIHL national's leading points scorer this season, with 80 in 35 games - 39 of them goals. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Kieran Brown is NIHL national's leading points scorer this season, with 80 in 35 games - 39 of them goals. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

One player he was particularly keen to hook up with was fellow forward Kieran Brown.

The veteran centre has not been disappointed with what he has seen.

Brown has - as expected by many - set NIHL National on fire, currently topping the players’ stats table with a staggering 80 points from only 35 league and cup games.

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Leeds Knights' Matty Davies, far right, has been impressed with the contribution of team-mate Kieran Brown, centre. Picture courtesy of Kat Medcroft/Swindon Wildcats

A hat-trick in the 5-2 win over Swindon Wildcats on Monday took his goals tally to 39, although he is being closely pursued by line-mate Brandon Whistle, who is just five points behind for the season.

While Adam Barnes completes the line with Brown and Whistle, Davies is deployed elsewhere by coach Dave Whistle, centering a line which currently comprises Cole Shudra and, quite often, two-way forward Harry Gulliver.

It means he has often been able to watch from the bench while Brown struts his stuff out on the ice, although the pair do get to team up whenever the Knights go on the power play.

Davies believes that, in Brown, Leeds have the league’s best player and believes it is only a matter of time before he plays at a higher level again.

HOT-SHOTS: Leeds Knights' Kieran Brown and line-mate Brandon Whistle lead the way in NIHL National for points this season. Picture: James Hardisty.

The 20-year-old Bradford Bulldogs junior chose to step away from the Elite League’s Sheffield Steelers after three years, frustrated by his lack of ice time.

But his departure in the summer of 2020 coincided with the on-going worldwide Covid-19 pandemic which prevented a normal 2020-21 season going ahead.

Brown, like others, was able to get game time in behind-closed-doors tournaments for Telford Tigers and Widnes Wild, but he has had to wait until the 2021-22 campaign to show his full potential once again, an opportunity he has grabbed with both hands.

“I’m so old in that room,” joked Davies. “But I don’t mind, it’s nice because I am probably the most experienced player in there, I’ve probably played the most games and might be the most experienced in terms of Elite League games and that kind of thing. So, these days, I see my role as being a little bit different. I love seeing Brownie doing what he’s doing.

“I said in the summer when I signed that I wanted to see that and I want to help bring that kid on because he’s the future, he is the one that is going places.

“I see myself in him a little bit, I was like that when I was his age, wheeling about and scoring - it’s great.

“For me, he is the best player in the league and I think he can be the best player in this league for a long time - but he can also go up a level whenever he wants.

“It’s great just to see a kid like that here in Leeds and it’s nice for me to try and help him along, as well as some of the other lads too.”

Davies, now 31, knows what it takes to win at this level, having been part of the Telford Tigers team which lifted the English Premier League regular season title back in 2016-17, playing alongside fellow Knights Sam Zajac and Sam Gospel.

He, like everyone else in the Knights dressing room, felt keenly the agony of missing out in the Autumn Cup Final to Swindon Wildcats just before Christmas.

But he is confident the young Knights team will have other opportunities to lift silverware in the coming years, maybe even as early as the current campaign.

“I was gutted for the young lads because a lot of them have never won anything, nothing of real note, and that was a real opportunity with a full barn, the first thing that Leeds would have ever won.

“You obviously don’t know for sure how often those kind of opportunities do come around.

“I can literally count on the fingers of two hands how many finals or big games I’ve played in - but I’ve been playing a long time. These lads are 20, 21 years old, some are even younger - they are going to have plenty more opportunities.”