Leeds Chiefs looking to build on solid early fanbase

LEEDS CHIEFS are hoping fans can continue to follow them around over the next few weeks as they continue their NIHL National season on the road.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 5:45 am
Leeds Chiefs break away from their pre-match huddle at Ice Sheffield. Picture: Chris Stratford.

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After making their inaugural appearance in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to Sheffield Steeldogs, the Chiefs face their next nine games on the road, continuing this Sunday in Shropshire against Telford Tigers.

With work still to be completed on the new Elland Road rink, league bosses agreed to a delay in the Chiefs’ staging their first home fixture.

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That is scheduled to be on Sunday, November 3 against Yorkshire rivals the Steeldogs.

And after being cheered on by around 400 noisy fans at Ice Sheffield at the weekend, player-coach Sam Zajac is hoping the team’s following will be even bigger when they finally skate out on to home ice.

“The support we had on Sunday was great,” said Zajac.

“We kind of heard through the week little rumours that quite a few tickets had been sold and to get such a great support in our first game - for a team that doesn’t even have a home yet - it was pretty special.

Leeds Chiefs' player-coach, Sam Zajac. Picture: Chris Stratford.

“They were very loud throughout the game and we tried to give them a lot to cheer about and, going forward, we’ll try to give them a lot more to cheer about.”

Captain and defenceman Luke Boothroyd admitted that the boisterous away section had a galvanising effect on the players as they pushed the Steeldogs close in the curtain-raising fixture for the whole league.

“It definitely makes a difference on the ice when you can hear your own fans, especially when they are that close - it’s a real boost,” said Boothroyd.

“In the past couple of seasons when we were playing for various other teams, there was really nothing worse than going to a not very nice rink on a cold Sunday night and playing in front of just a few fans.

“So it was great when we came out on Sunday and there was a buzz and an excitement and there were lots of people cheering us on.

“It makes a world of difference to play in front of a crowd like that, compared to a near-empty rink.”