Leeds Knights edge out Telford Tigers to enter 2021-22 NIHL National season in confident mood
LEEDS KNIGHTS’ coach Dave Whistle remembers his time at Telford Tigers as a player fondly – and with good reason.
The one season he spent there as a player saw him lighting the lamp with alarming regularity. So much so that, in just 47 games, he scored 69 goals and posted 118 assists for an overall points haul of 187.
Of course, the chances of anyone replicating such free-scoring feats these days are virtually zero but, last night, Whistle was again enjoying himself in Telford, courtesy of a 3-2 win for his Knights’ team in their final pre-season game.
The scoreline was a repeat of the win against Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Steeldogs at Elland Road on Friday.
As on Friday, the Knights were outshot again. As on Friday, netminder Sam Gospel stood tall, himself returning to the club where he played regularly from 2013-17 and turning away all but two of the 38 shots on his goal.
In an even first period, it was the visitors who broke the ice in the 15th minute. Cole Shudra was the man on target, reversing roles with Adam Barnes for who he set up the game-winning goal on Friday.
It was the combination of two more former Telford favourites that saw the Knights double their advantage at 24.38 when centre Brandon Whistle - part of the Tigers’ 2019-20 double-winning side - set up centre Matty Davies, who helped Tom Watkins’s team lift the last-ever EPL title in 2017.
Nobody gets an easy ride in Telford, however, and it was no different last night, the hosts making it a one-goal game just under four minutes later when Dan Mitchell fired past Gospel.
That is how it stayed until another former Tigers’ forward stepped forward to produce what proved to be the game-winning goalm Kieran Brown - who starred for the hosts in the Spring Cup - firing past Brad Day at 43.43.
Andrew Mckinney dragged Telford back to within one again but, as on Friday, the Knights held out for a timely confidence-boosting win against another of their NIHL National rivals who will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.