Milton Keynes Lightning usurped Swindon Wildcats as league leaders with Friday night’s impressive 8-4 slaying of Basingstoke Bison at home and now currently sit one point above their Wiltshire rivals, who led by six points before Christmas.
But after they were hit by Covid, they quickly saw their advantage eroded in a five-game losing streak.
Fifth-placed Leeds – now back to full-strength after their long-running injury crisis hampered their league campaign prior to December – remain very much in touching distance with both teams and know a four-point weekend would send a strong message that they remain an outside title contender themselves.
Leeds have enjoyed success at Swindon already this season, enjoying a thumping 7-3 win in the Autumn Cup group phase in September before edging out Aaron Nell’s (pictured) team 3-2 on a shoot-out on October 23. Overall, Leeds lead the head-to-head league series between the two 2-1, Swindon having won 4-3 in Leeds on October 24, the first loss in what went on to become a five-game losing streak for the Knights before they came out of their slump with their Autumn Cup semi-final triumph over Sheffield Steeldogs.
Ones to watch: Kieran Brown in particular has thrived playing against Swindon this season, posting nine goals and eight assists in six games so far. His most prolific night was the Autumn Cup group win in Swindon back in September when he scored 2+4. He also 3+1 against a somewhat depleted Swindon at Leeds on January 3. Adam Barnes has also enjoyed some success, posting four goals and six assists.
For Swindon, Emil Svec is among those to have enjoyed the most success when facing the Knights, with four goals and three assists, with fellow forward Tomasz Malasinski also proving highly effective, scoring three goals and seven assists in his five games against Leeds.
Knights v Milton Keynes - When? Sunday, 5.15pm; Where? Planet Ice Leeds.
Last 10 games - Knights: WLLWLWWLLW; Lightning: WWLWLWWLWL
Ones to watch – Knights (v MKL): Brandon Whistle 3+3; Lightning (v LK): Sam Talbot - 2+2.
Top scorers (in league) – Knights - Brown GP: 23, G: 24, A: 28, Pts: 52; Whistle GP: 23, G: 27, A: 25, Pts: 52; Barnes GP: 22, G: 8, A: 16, Pts: 24; Lightning - Chamberlain GP: 21, G: 21, A: 30, Pts: 51; Norris GP: 22, G: 20, A: 19, Pts: 39; Talbot GP: 24, G: 19; A: 18, Pts: 37.
Sunday will be the Lightning’s first visit of the 2021-22 season to Elland Road, with both teams having previously enjoyed a win over each other down in Buckinghamshire.
Leeds prevailed 6-3 in the Autumn Cup on October 9 but came off second best when they visited in the league on December 4 with only 11 skaters, eventually losing out 4-2.