Leeds Knights: Good links with EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers and Manchester Storm working well

STEVE NELL admits it is proving hard to bring in quality replacements to help ease the load on his injury-hit Leeds Knights’ roster, making the healthy relationships he has helped develop with Elite League clubs even more vital.

By Phil Harrison
Friday, 5th November 2021, 6:47 am
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 10:37 pm

For geographical reaons alone, it should come as no surprise that Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers are the two teams with who the Knights have struck two-way deals on players.

Steelers and Leeds agreed such terms over Cole Shudra in the summer and, later, Brandon Whistle, who played at Sheffield Arena during 2018-19.

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Netminder Ben Churchfield dropped down to play for Leeds last month when they faced Sheffield Steeldogs with Knights’ coach Dave Whistle wanting to rest Sam Gospel.

Steelers have the right to call up Shudra when required, while Leeds have first say on where Whistle will play.

Churchfield only played for Leeds due to the Steelers being without a game and, more often than not, is required to be back-up to whichever of his two import goalies coach Aaron Fox goes with.

TWO-WAY: Defenceman Ben Solder has impressed for Leeds Knights but has spent a couple of weekends back with parent club Manchester Storm in the Elite League. Picture: James Hardisty

A similar understanding to the Shudra deal was reached with Storm defenceman Ben Solder, who has excelled in a Leeds jersey, but has already been called back up by Ryan Finnerty twice.

Last week, Storm forward Harry Gulliver turned out for Leeds against Raiders IHC under two-way terms, but was back with Manchester the following night.

He impressed alongside centre Lewis Houston and it is hoped he can be utilised again over the coming weeks.

Elsewhere, Whistle has brought in two young forwards in the shape of 17-year-olds Mack Stewart and Carter Hamill, both part of the Belfast Giants junior programme.

TEAM BUILDING: Leeds Knights owner, Steve Nell Picture: Steve Riding.

“We’ll look to bring in additional players when and where needed but, at this stage of the season, there are not that many players about,” said Nell.

“If there are players available, we’ll look to try and sign them.

“The agreements we have with Steelers and the Storm are crucial for us moving forward.

“We brought in Harry (Gulliver) on Saturday and that worked well and hopefully we’ll see him again with us. The connection with the Steelers has also been good, we had Ben Churchfield a couple of weeks back. It’s a two-way thing – we’ve got to help them and they’ll help us out and it’s working well at the moment.”

Whistle was given his first opportunity of the season to play competitively for the Steelers on Wednesday night, impressing during a 6-0 win on home ice against Fife Flyers.

He capped a good display with an assist on an Anthony DeLuca goal in the 59th minute.