Leeds Knights handed defensive boost ahead of testing double-header against Telford Tigers
DAVE WHISTLE has been handed a timely boost which will see his Leeds Knights team head into their weekend double-header with Telford Tigers with six defencemen.
Ben Solder is back from spending last weekend with Manchester Storm in the Elite League, while Ross Kennedy has been cleared to resume playing after taking a knock to the head in last Saturday’s defeat to Raiders IHC at Elland Road.
Kennedy also sat out the subsequent loss at Bees IHC in Slough 24 hours later but will jump back into the fray to take on his former team on home ice tonight. (6.30pm).
Solder will be joined in the line-up by fellow Storm player Harry Gulliver, who made his Knights debut against Raiders, while Mack Stewart and the arrival of loanee Philip Edgar from Whitley Warriors give Whistle 10 forwards to juggle with as he looks for his team to snap a three-game losing streak.
In goal, Sam Gospel remains out after picking up a hamstring injury early in the loss to Raiders, while Harrison Walker is fit again after picking recovering from an injury picked up playing for parent club Widnes Wild.
Head coach Whistle is likely to split the weekend between Walker and Niks Trapans – who filled in for Gospel last weekend. Ben Churchfield, the Sheffield Steelers’ goalie who played for Leeds in the 6-3 Autumn Cup defeat at Sheffield Steeldogs, is no longer an option after the Elite League club announced his departure on Saturday morning.
He was offered the chance to go between the pipes for the Knights again this weekend, but has opted to pursue back in North America.
“Ben was hoping for more game time with us,” said Steelers’ head coach Aaron Fox. “With our situation currently, it’s not something I could promise him so he wanted to explore his options elsewhere
“We had the chance for him to play with Leeds this weekend but he decided against that option. He came in midweek and said he would prefer to explore his options in North America rather than play in the NIHL.”
Tonight’s encounter marks the beginning of a busy spell for the Knights, who face five games in eight days.
After tomorrow’s trip to Telford, they then face a two-legged Autumn Cup semi-final against Sheffield Steeldogs, the first leg taking them to South Yorkshire on Wendnesday before they play host at Elland Road on Friday (7.30pm).
They then finish a hectic few days on home ice in the league against Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday.