Leeds Knights target consistency in order to realise their NIHL National ambitions

NOT surprisingly, there was an air of disappointment lingering around Elland Road ice rink last Sunday as Leeds Knights fans shuffled out the building having seen their team suffer a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Basingstoke Bison.
BEAT IT: Joe Coulter says Leeds Knights are determined to avoid suffering back-to-back defeats - not just tonight but for the rest of the season. Picture James HardistyBEAT IT: Joe Coulter says Leeds Knights are determined to avoid suffering back-to-back defeats - not just tonight but for the rest of the season. Picture James Hardisty
BEAT IT: Joe Coulter says Leeds Knights are determined to avoid suffering back-to-back defeats - not just tonight but for the rest of the season. Picture James Hardisty

The Bison were clinical in everything they did, making it difficult for their hosts to create clear-cut chances, while taking their own opportunities when they presented themselves at the other end.

Jordan Lawday impressed between the pipes for Ashley Tait’s team who, after losing their first three encounters against the Knights this season, have clearly figured out a way of getting the better of them, last week’s fully-deserved win coming three weeks after a 4-3 win at the same venue on a night which marked interim head coach Ryan Aldridge’s first game in charge.

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The discontment among both the home fans and the players was a stark contrast to the previous evening when the Knights staged a remarkable second period comeback from 4-1 down against Peterborough, the game eventually going to a shoot-out in which they prevailed to emerge as 5-4 victors.

Centre Joe Coulter summed up the mood afterwards when he admitted the Knights had been flat against their Hampshire rivals, possibly a knock-on effect of their exertions the previous night, while also no doubt a result of missing such key players as Brandon Whistle and Sam Zajac.

Aldridge actually felt his team were flat all weekend, maybe even during the two practice sessions leading up to the home double-header.

But, despite the setback, Coulter, a consistent performer in between Jordan Fisher and Ethan Hehir, says the Knights now need to ensure they don’t suffer back-to-back defeats again throuhout the remainder of the regular season.

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It’s a tall order. Particularly when you consider consistency has been an issue for Leeds most of the season.

Ryan Aldridge has had a positive impact on 
Leeds Knights since replacing Dave Whistle as head coach on an interim basis, says Joe Coulter. 
Picture: Bruce RollinsonRyan Aldridge has had a positive impact on 
Leeds Knights since replacing Dave Whistle as head coach on an interim basis, says Joe Coulter. 
Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Ryan Aldridge has had a positive impact on Leeds Knights since replacing Dave Whistle as head coach on an interim basis, says Joe Coulter. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Aside from their six-game unbeaten run at the very start of their season, they have struggled to maintain that winning feeling.

Since that impressive streak in the group phase of the Autumn Cup, they have only managed to post two three-game winning runs together, the second one coming to an end at the hands of Bison last weekend.

“We were flat against Basingstoke,” admitted Coulter. “When this place is almost filled, we feed off the energy that is in here with all the fans but, against Basingstoke, for whatever reason, we just couldn’t get going.

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“But we’ll pick ourselves up because we have got so much skill on this team and I believe we can beat anybody.

Joe coulter has worked well with winger Jordan Fisher, above, for 
Leeds Knights this season 
Picture: Bruce RollinsonJoe coulter has worked well with winger Jordan Fisher, above, for 
Leeds Knights this season 
Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Joe coulter has worked well with winger Jordan Fisher, above, for Leeds Knights this season Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“It’s just about trying to find that consistency. A rule for us from now on has to be that we never lose two in a row. That has to be the plan.

“We’ve planned out the rest of the season, how many points we want from each weekend, how to try and make those goals achievable and we have a target to work towards.

“But our main focus has got to be that we don’t lose two in a row for the rest of the season.”

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Like all the Knights’ players, Coulter has reponded well to the arrival of Aldridge behind the bench, the former Basingstoke and Swindon Wildcats boss providing the platform from which the team can go and play the kind of exciting hockey they excell at.

“I’ve had a few coaches throughout my career and everybody has got a different way of working,” said Coulter.

“But I like the way that Ryan wants us to play, he wants us to play attacking hockey. He’s given us a platform to do it and it is us that need to execute.

“We know that if we do execute - on a regular basis - we’ll be unstoppable.”