Leeds Knights look to get everyone rolling in bid to stay ahead of NIHL National chasing pack
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The Knights’ head coach was ejected from the bench during last Saturday’s 3-2 win at Peterborough Phantoms after arguing with officials, forcing him to watch the third period from the sidelines, something he was forced to repeat for the following night’s 4-3 win at Telford Tigers.
He potentially faced a three-game ban which would have kept him away from the Knights’ bench and locker room over the next two days.
But on Thursday evening, the NIHL Department of Player Safety (DoPS) decreed that Aldridge would only serve a one-game ban - which he has already served - while also having five penalty points added to the team’s total for the season.
To clarify, this doesn’t mean points are deducted from the team in the regular season standings, they are just added to the total of penalty points incurred by the team throughout the 2023-24 season.
According to the rules issued by governing body the English Ice Hockey Association for the 2023-24 season, if a team accumulates 50 or more DOPS points during a season, any coach ‘identified as having responsibility for that team will receive an automatic two-game suspension.’
While Aldridge was left frustrated on the sidelines, prevailed under assistant coach Davey Lawrence, extending their winning streak to six games ahead of this weekend’s forthcoming encounters against the Raiders.
With 10 wins from 12 games so far, last weekend’s success saw Leeds go clear of closest rivals Milton Keynes Lightning, who slipped two points back after a 4-3 defeat at Hull Seahawks, former Knights’ centre Matty Davies’s team moving up to third as a result.
And while Aldridge is rightly happy with the current state of affairs, there are elements of his team’s performances which still leave him a touch frustrated.
“We only seem to be able to get one of our top two lines rolling each night,” said Aldridge. “It’s never together, so we just want to get them both firing at the same time.
“We’re slowly getting there, though. As a staff we were talking the other day about how things were going and, to be fair, we’re picking the bones out of wins when most other teams have to pick the bones out of losses.
“We just feel we’ve got more in the tank and it’s about getting everyone going. Saying that, it’s reassuring we’re in such a good position despite that, but it’s about maintaining then building on that to get us to the level I believe we’re capable of.”
Raiders prepare to welcome the Knights on Saturday night for the first meeting of the season between the two buoyed by a 5-3 win at home to Sheffield Steeldogs, although it has been a frustrating start to the campaign for Sean Easton’s team, who sit third bottom with just four wins from 13 games.
The Knights will have a more settled feel now that Scottish forward Jordan Buesa is with them on a permanent basis.
The 23-year-old already has two goals and three assists from the three games he played as part of his two-way deal from the Elite League’s Glasgow Clan. #
That arrangement was converted into a permanent contract with the Knights on Wednesday.