Leeds Knights: Sam Zajac hails influence of fellow defenceman Jamie Chilcott

SAM ZAJAC believes fellow defenceman Jamie Chilcott has proved a “fantastic signing” for Leeds Knights.

By Phil Harrison
Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 5:37 pm
Jamie Chilcott 
has been a positive addition to the Leeds Knights' roster since signing back in January, according to fellow D-man Sam Zajac. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Jamie Chilcott has been a positive addition to the Leeds Knights' roster since signing back in January, according to fellow D-man Sam Zajac. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The former Hull Pirates captain has had a positive influence on the Knights’ push for the play-offs in NIHL National, providing a commanding, experienced presence at the back end.

He made his debut on the same night that head coach Ryan Aldridge stood behind the bench for the first time, the Knights suffering a 4-3 home defeat to Basingstoke Bison.

Since then, however, the Knights have won 11 from 14 games, Sunday’s 3-1 road win at Raiders IHC taking them back into the top four in the regular season standings and just three points off second-placed Milton Keynes Lightning, who they face in a pivotal home-and-away double-header this weekend.

Sam Zajac got back into the thick of the action for Leeds Knights at the weekend. Picture: James Hardisty.

Due to work commitments and an injury sustained in only Aldridge’s second game in charge - a 4-3 win at home to Sheffield Steeldogs on January 21 - Zajac has not been available for the Knights.

But a change in work circumstances and a full recovery from the blow he suffered against the Steeldogs, saw the veteran defender back in the thick of it at the weekend, taking to the ice for a 5-3 home defeat to league leaders and champions-elect Telford Tigers.

Having been forced to watch the Knights’ progress from afar, Zajac had been impressed with the performances produced by his team-mates, helped in no small part, he believes, by the addition of Chilcott.

“Chilly has been a real steadying influence and presence back there for us ,” said Zajac.

Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“You know what you get with a guy like Chilly - he’s a leader, he’s vocal and he’s physical when he has to be.

“He doesn’t tend to make any rash decisions and he’s somebody you can rely on to play big minutes for you.

“He’s definitely added a bit more balance to the back end for us and has just been an all-round fantastic signing.”

The Knights hope to have their defensive ranks bolstered further this weekend with Aldridge hoping Ross Kennedy has made a full recovery from taking a puck to the face in the 8-5 win against Swindon Wildcats 10 days ago.