Leeds Knights Fans’ Jury: Double delight against Milton Keynes Lightning and the battle for runners-up

THIS week our fans’ panel regulars give their take on last weekend’s double-header against Milton Keynes Lightning – two wins moving the Knights up to third spot.

By Phil Harrison
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 11:48 am
GOOD MONTH (from left): Archie Hazeldine, Adam Barnes, Sam Gospel and Kieran Brown have all impressed in recent weeks.
GOOD MONTH (from left): Archie Hazeldine, Adam Barnes, Sam Gospel and Kieran Brown have all impressed in recent weeks.

Have a scroll through their contributions and see if you agree with their take on the weekend.

Jim Piper, Manchester: Leeds Knights achieved another outstanding four-point weekend with a double victory over Milton Keynes Lightning. This has elevated Knights to third in the league, one point off second place with six regular season games left.

Instead of a normal match update, I want to talk this week about a few things I have noticed.

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Adam Barnes extended his scoring tally to 61 points for the season for Leeds Knights at the weekend - 33 of them, including 15 goals, coming in the last 13 games. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Firstly, the form of the team as a whole. They are the most cohesive team in the league with superb goaltending, solid diligent defence, and outstanding forward play.

I do not feel right singling out individuals as every man in the squad are playing their part in the current form and success of the unit. However, four players have stood out for me over the last month.

Sam Gospel has been consistently the top netminder in the league all season.

He continues to defy logical conventions attributed to the art of goaltending with an amazing 90.44 save percentage over 96 appearances for Chiefs/Knights. The man is not human.

COMING THROUGH: Young defenceman Archie Hazeldine has caught the eye this season in just his first full season of senior hockey. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

He turns out winning performances week after week and every Knights fan is over the moon that we have secured his services for two more years.

Archie Hazeldine has been turning out performances way above his years recently and his work going up ice to complement the forwards has been a joy to watch.

Kieran Brown, the goal machine and top of the league scoring charts just defies logic, scoring ‘worldie’ goals every game.

But, in my opinion, the standout player for the last month has been winger Adam Barnes.

Since Brandon Whistle’s apparent permanent move to Sheffield Steelers in the Elite League, Barnes has been outstanding both in terms of goals and assists and he is an integral part of our forward first line.

Next week we have two important games with the visit of the Bees and a trip to league leaders Telford Tigers and keeping up our momentum is vital heading towards post season.

Nick Jackson, Leeds: Well, what a weekend! Another four-point weekend against the Lightning moving us up to third and just points in it for second place!

Saturday night was always going to be exciting and the number of fans in MK this weekend was fantastic. A solid performance from the guys gave us a good run up into Sunday’s home game.

Oh and what a game that was! ‘The Castle’ was bouncing, everyone was joining in with the chants and the lads played brilliantly. As soon as Barnes scored you could tell they were up for it. Barnes and Brown are in such great form and they play brilliantly together.

Chilcott’s goal from the blue line was fantastic and Shudra was class as usual. Not to mention Gospel saving the penalty shot. All in all it was brilliant.

Plus I won the 50/50 so that was nice!

Johnathan Greenwood, Halifax: Consistency creates champion teams and there has to be increasing confidence in the Leeds Knights camp that the Coventry play-offs offer them the chance to prove this.

Another four-point weekend shifted the Knights from fourth to third, just one point behind Swindon with six games remaining, and their opponents, Milton Keynes Lightning, down to fourth.

The games against the Lightning saw Ryan Aldridge’s team continue the theme of scoring early and putting themselves in a good position.

Two and three-goal leads set the platform in both games. Powerplay goals in the 38th and 40th minute, from Sam Talbot and Adam Laishram respectively, put the home side back in Saturday’s contest.

Indeed, when Sean Norris netted at 47:41 it appeared the tide was turning in their favour. As usual, however, Sam Gospel was is in fine form with a 92 per cent save percentage and Cole Shudra took full advantage to slap a shot past Smital just over three minutes later. Kieran Brown then cleverly tipped in a Ben Solder effort to seal things.

A dominant defensive display reduced the visitors’ impact in the return and at 5-1 one-minute-and-sixteen into the middle 20, minds were possibly already on the coming weekend long before a 6-1 result was in the books.

Bees visit Elland Road this Saturday on the back of beating Sheffield Steeldogs to start the weekend before a road game at leaders Telford Tigers rounds off the slate.

It could take place after the Tigers are crowned back-to-back league winners when they face Swindon the night before.

The Shropshire side are the only outfit to overcome the Knights in over a month and one of only two sides to do so in the last dozen fixtures, so things are set for fantastic game.

Points, and increased powerplay proficiency the order of the day.