Leeds Knights: Dates revealed for festive face-off against Swindon Wildcats in NIHL National Autumn Cup final

LEEDS KNIGHTS have a chance to give their fans the perfect early Christmas present after learning the dates of their two-legged Autumn Cup final against Swindon Wildcats.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 12:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:15 pm
WE MEET AGAIN: Leeds Knights will face-off against Swindon Wildcats at Elland Road on Thursday, December 23 in the second leg of the Autumn Cup Final. The first leg is in Swindon on December 17. Picture: James Hardisty.

The first leg will be played in Swindon on Friday, December 17 before the return leg is held at Leeds’ Elland Road Ice Arena on Thursday, December 23.

Knights’ head coach Dave Whistle hopes he will have a number of long-term injured players back in his line-up for the tie, with a couple expected to be back on the bench as early as this weekend.

Swindon are among the form teams in NIHL National at the moment, sitting second in the standings having lost just once in their last 10 games.

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FINAL COUNTDOWN: Leeds Knights head coach Dave Whistle

The first leg will see Leeds visit the Wildcats’ Link Centre rink for the third time this season, in addition to a pre-season challenge clash between the two in early September which the hosts won 3-2.

Both competitive meetings in Wiltshire have seen the Knights prevail, enjoying a 7-3 win on September 24 during the group phase of the Autumn Cup before edging out Aaron Nell’s team 3-2 after a shoot-out in the regular season league programme.

“Any time you get to play in a final is an exciting time,” said Whistle.

“Swindon are one of the best teams in the league right now and we know it is going to be tough against them.

“They are solid right through from their goaltending to their forwards.

“But we’re a good team too, particularly when we are healthy and, hopefully by then, we’ll have had a few bodies back from being out injured.”

Swindon player-coach, Aaron Nell, whose team beat Telford Tigers 12-7 on aggregate in the semi-finals, said: “We’ve come a long way in this competition and we’re excited to get going against Leeds in the final.

“The Autumn Cup holds a special place in the hearts of our fans and it’s been 30 years since Richie Howe and his team won against the MK Kings. It would be a perfect way to remember the past by lifting the trophy.

“However, standing in front of us is a team that will be very tough to play against.”