Leeds Knights: Ryan Aldridge on why the pressure is off for NIHL National play-off clash against Telford Tigers

RYAN ALDRIDGE says the pressure is off Leeds Knights as they head to Telford Tigers tonight looking to keep their NIHL National play-off hopes alive,

By Phil Harrison
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 8:45 am
Updated Sunday, 17th April 2022, 9:28 am

The Knights’ hopes of making it to Coventry for the NIHL National Final Four Weekend took a further hit on Saturday night when they went down 5-4 in overtime at home to Bees IHC. It leaves them with one point from three games with three to play, two of which are against regular season league champions Telford.

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Mathematically, it is still possible for the Knights to clinch a top two place and with it a spot in the semi-finals at the SkyDome Arena on April 30, but they are going to need help from elsewhere. That aid will chiefly need to come from Milton Keynes Lightning, the team who inflicted so much damage on the Knights’ cause on the post-season’s opening weekend when they won both games between the two.

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NO PRESSURE: Leeds Knights head coach Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Aldridge admits his team’s chances are slim, although he saw encouraging signs against the Bees of them returning to the kind of form they enjoyed under him during the regular season when they put together a run of nine wins in10 games.

MORE – Leeds Knights in ‘elimination hockey’ as they battle for their NIHL National play-off lives against Bees IHC and Telford Tigers

His team’s ability to twice come back from losing positions on Saturday night, before finally being undone by Alan Lack’s overtime winner, gives him hope that not all is quite lost.

“For us, now, I think the pressure is off, especially going into Telford’s building,” said Aldridge. “We need to go in there and play like we did for the second two periods tonight and show how we can really play.

“That’s how we were playing right up until we had the sickness and the injuries and we’ve been in a bit of a lull, which has brought negativity and tiredness to the group in the last couple of weeks.

“But now we’ve got that jump back, we’ve got to keep that momentum until the end of the season and just see where it takes us.

“Those last two periods, were the best we’ve played in a while. The power play was the best it had been in a while, our shorthanded game was the best it had been in a while, so that’s what makes it all the more frustrating not to have taken anything from that game.”

To watch the Knights take on Telford tonight via live stream go HERE