Leeds Knights: Coach Dave Whistle happy to be flexible as Ben Solder returns to the fray
DAVE WHISTLE is prepared to be flexible with his line-up this weekend as his Leeds Knights team attempts to protect its perfect start to the NIHL National Autumn Cup.
The return of defenceman of Ben Solder after a weekend away in the Elite League with parent club Manchester Storm is welcome news at Elland Road, although head coach Whistle will be without experienced centre Matty Davies.
The Knights face a long road trip on Saturday when they pay a first visit of the 2021-22 campaign to in-form Basingstoke Bison, before heading home to prepare for Sunday’s home game against Raiders IHC.
Both will present a serious test of the Knights credentials, with the West Yorkshire team currently tied at the top of the group standings with Sheffield Steeldogs after three games.
With Davies unavailable, Solder is one option to take on a forward role similar to one he was asked to in pre-season when he filled in for Joe Coulter as third-line centre.
Brandon Whistle, or Cole Shudra – both linemates of Davies – could move across from either wing which would then allow Solder to moveout wide, unless the Knights head coach favours bringing either Ethan Hehir or Jordan Fisher up from the third line.
Either way, the Knights will have seven recognised D in their ranks for the trip to Hampshire, with Whistle glad to have Solder back on his bench.
“We were able to get the wins without him which was good, but it will be good to get Ben back because he brings a lot to this team,” said Whistle. “He has a good offensive upside for a younger guy and a strong skill level which is always a good thing to have on your team.
“I know he enjoyed himself with Manchester but I know he’s excited about being back here too because he’ll be playing more minutes and playing certain types of minutes.
“For example, he probably wouldn’t be on a power play in Manchester and getting many offensive opportunities but here he does, so he has probably had to play two different styles.”
Whistle will make a final call on his line combinations after tonight’s practice session at Elland Road ahead of tomorrow’s arduous four-and-half hour coach trip.