Leeds Knights: Fans Jury on Phantoms win and Bison loss plus weekend preview

THIS week our fans’ panel regulars give their take on last weekend’s games against Peterborough Phantoms and Basingstoke Bison which saw Leeds Knights enjoy mixed fortunes in NIHL National.
Leeds Knights enjoyed mixed fortunes at the weekend. Picture: Bruce RollinsonLeeds Knights enjoyed mixed fortunes at the weekend. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Leeds Knights enjoyed mixed fortunes at the weekend. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Jim Piper, 67, from Manchester

THE Knights started their weekend on Saturday against an in-form Peterborough Phantoms side with lofty expectations of continuing their winning streak.

The visitors scored early with an early goal from Markey and it took Knights till 14.05 to equalise through Cole Shudra. That finished the scoring for the first period but the fans could not have expected the goal frenzy of the second.

Kieran Brown posted his 50th goal of the season at the weekend - from just 41 games. Picture: Bruce RollinsonKieran Brown posted his 50th goal of the season at the weekend - from just 41 games. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Kieran Brown posted his 50th goal of the season at the weekend - from just 41 games. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Phantoms raced out of the blocks to score three goals in seven minutes and had the Knights well and truly on the back foot.

Then something woke the home side up and three goals in 66 seconds raised the roof, as fans roared their approval of an astonishing minute or so of hockey.

Goals from Brown, Fisher and Barnes made it 4-4 at the end of the second. No scoring in the third or overtime periods led us to a penalty shoot-out and Knights took the extra point with two unanswered penalty shots.

Sunday night was a major disappointment as a Basingstoke Bison side took the points with a good physical display against a home side that looked tired and flat after their efforts the previous evening.

Sam Gospel stood tall during the shoot-out with Peterborough on Saturday, turning away all four attempts to steer Leeds Knights to a 5-4 win. Picture: Bruce RollinsonSam Gospel stood tall during the shoot-out with Peterborough on Saturday, turning away all four attempts to steer Leeds Knights to a 5-4 win. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Sam Gospel stood tall during the shoot-out with Peterborough on Saturday, turning away all four attempts to steer Leeds Knights to a 5-4 win. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Bison ran out comfortable and deserved winners 5-1 with Cole Shudra scoring a consolation goal near the end.

A two-point weekend is still a good return for the team’s efforts and was much appreciated by the near 2,400 total fans who certainly had the rink rocking.

A home game against Raiders this Saturday should see Knights back to winning ways before a tough trip to Peterborough on Sunday.

Michael Prior, 33, from Otley, Leeds

KEY MAN: The absence of captain and D-man Sam Zajac, due to work commitments, meant Leeds Knights were short at the back all weekend. Picture: James HardistyKEY MAN: The absence of captain and D-man Sam Zajac, due to work commitments, meant Leeds Knights were short at the back all weekend. Picture: James Hardisty
KEY MAN: The absence of captain and D-man Sam Zajac, due to work commitments, meant Leeds Knights were short at the back all weekend. Picture: James Hardisty

Hockey, like all sports, is a rollercoaster of emotions and nothing demonstrated this clearer than Leeds Knights’ home double header at the weekend.

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First up to visit ‘The Castle’ were the Peterborough Phantoms who were looking to snap a two-game losing streak and they came close, leading 4 – 1 at one point only for the Knights to turn the game on its head and score three goals in just over a minute, including Knights’ star man Kieran Brown - notching his 50th of the season to draw level.

No further goals were scored in regulation or overtime and the game went to penalties where a combination of the Knights’ offensive players’ sharp-shooting and netminder Sam Gospel’s big saves saw us take the win and the two points.

Expectations where therefore high on Sunday when Basingstoke Bison were in town.

However, they were soon quashed when the Bison raced in to a 2-0 first period lead with the Knights looking a shadow of the team they were the night before.

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The Bison scored a further three times and looked to be on course for a well-earned shut out before Cole Shudra restored a faint bit of pride scoring for Leeds in the dying moments.

Next up bottom side the London Raiders visit Leeds on Saturday but nothing is a given in this league, anyone can beat anyone and Leeds will need to be on top form to continue their playoff push.

Nick Jackson, 38, from Leeds

FIVE wins in the last six games and a playoff place on the line, we needed a big effort.

First up was the Peterborough Phantoms, they are a good side and have been playing some good hockey, they are also pushing for the last playoff place too!

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The first period was OK, finishing 1-1. The second was amazing, Phantoms went ahead early on and looked like they were running away with the game. Then the Knights came back - scoring three goals in an amazing 66 seconds. Wow!

It went all the way to penalties, which are always a tense time, doesn’t matter what sport it is. The Knights took their goals well and Sam Gospel, or “The Wall” as I like to call him, was class.

Sunday against Bison and nothing seemed to work. Jordan Lawday was fantastic in their net, although the Knights didn’t have many shots on target, our one goal coming from Cole Shudra late on.

We lost, but we’re still in with a very good chance of making the playoffs.

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We were short on players, with Brandon Whistle and Ben Solder away in the Elite League and captain Sam Zajac missing through work commitments.

We only had five ‘D’ so they were doing double shifts.

Next weekend we go again - Saturday at home to the Raiders. Come on you Knights!

Johnathan Greenwood, 32, from Halifax

IF ever there was a weekend that summed up the delights of NIHL National, we saw it from the two games at ‘The Castle’.

To see the Knights’ first-ever shoot-out at home and take the points after being 4-1 down to the Phantoms mid-second period was one of the experiences of the season.

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A 66-second, three-goal salvo that, predictably, started with a Kieran Brown goal – his 50th to date – had the atmosphere at another level, which seemed to visibly lift the home side.

It was always going to be something to live up to when Basingstoke visited on Sunday as a result and, in truth, it just didn’t click.

Going short on the D-line for a second night running maybe contributed but the Bison fully deserved to take the two points with a dominant 5-1 display.

Looking forward to the slate this week, the Raiders head to Leeds on the back of a win and will eye the points as they look to climb off the bottom.

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Sunday’s return against the Phantoms is the big one, though, as they sit just one win behind the Knights with a game in hand. A double dose of events from Elland Road is exactly what is required to continue a push towards what seems like a three-way battle for fourth spot.