Leeds Knights: Dave Whistle considers options for new faces as injuries begin to bite

DAVE WHISTLE says he will explore all options as he considers bringing in at least one new face to help boost his injury-hit Leeds Knights roster.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 9:20 pm
TAKE THAT: Leeds Knights' Kieran Brown makes a hit on Swindon Wildcats' Balint Pakozdi. Picture: James Hardisty

The Knights saw their unbeaten start to the NIHL National regular season ended last night, when Swindon Wildcats gained instant revenge for the 3-2 defeat they suffered at the hands of their West Yorkshire rivals via a shoot-out in Wiltshire 24 hours earlier.

Leeds rallied in the final 10 minutes in front of another healthy Elland Road crowd, pulling the score back to 4-3 through two Kieran Brown strikes, but they couldn’t find the leveller they craved.

Despite the defeat, Leeds remain joint-top of the table with three other teams on six points, Sheffield Steeldogs also missing their chance to go clear of everyone else when they were defeated 6-3 at Bees IHC.

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Head coach Dave Whistle barks instructions to his Leeds Knights players on the bench. Picture: James Hardisty

The Knights will look to bounce back from their first disappointment when they host Raiders IHC at Elland Road on Saturday before heading to Slough to take on Bees 24 hours later.

Two-way forward Cole Shudra and defenceman Jordan Griffin will continue to be sidelined for those games, leaving Whistle to scour the market in terms of potential reinforcements, with the 55-year-old Canadian admitting his most likely option to strengthen would be to bring in a player from outside the UK.

“You can’t grumble when you split the weekend with a team like Swindon Wildcats, but I thought we had the opportunity to win tonight and we just didn’t pay the price for the whole 60 minutes,” said Whistle.

“But that could have been down to tiredness, I mean we didn’t get home until about 3am and it is just a very long day and we battled hard on Saturday night to win that game in Swindon.

Brandon Whistle, top left, gives Leeds Knights the lead against Swindon Wildcats after just 12 seconds. Picture: James Hardisty.

“And we’ve got guys who are injured, we’re missing guys, plus we’ve got a couple of guys playing through some injuries.

“So it was a difficult weekend and next weekend I’m hoping we can get a little bit more healthy and I might even try to get another player in to help out right now.

“I made some calls last night to some friends of mine and I know some agents that I’ve dealt with quite a bit over the years.

“I do have a couple of import slots and I think that would be the only way I could probably get a player into our team because most of the players over here have signed for other teams and, understandably, those teams don’t want to give you their player when they are playing their own games.

Leeds Knights' Jordan Fisher strives to regain control of the puck during Sunday night's clash with Swindon Wildcats at Elland Road Ice Arena Picture: James Hardisty.

“So it’s probably going to have to be somebody new to the country – but I’m exploring every option in terms of getting another body in.”

Despite missing two key ingredients in Shudra and Griffin, the Knights actually got off to a dream start when Brandon Whistle scored past Renny Marr with just 12 seconds on the clock.

But it was Swindon who made the most of their chances thereafer, levelling through Emil Svec at 8.11 before the Czech Republic forward doubled his tally on the power play at 28.21.

Balint Pakozdi extended the Wildcats lead at 36.53 before Tomasz Malasinski made it 4-1 five minutes into the third.

Leeds Knights' Adam Barnes battles with Swindon Wildcats' Reed Sayers and Neil Liddiard. Picture: James Hardisty.

And although two goals in the space of 23 seconds from Brown injected life into hosts, they came up agonisingly short of their target.