Leeds Knights secure Kieran Brown’s return for 2022-23 NIHL National season

LEEDS KNIGHTS have moved quickly to confirm what they regard as a vital piece of their team for the 2022-23 season by re-signing top points-scorer Kieran Brown.

By Phil Harrison
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 7:11 am

The 20-year-old forward, from Bradford, has been a standout performer for the team in its inaugural campaign, posting 49 goals and 48 assists for a 97-point haul in 47 appearances.

The fear among some Knights’ fans was that Brown would head back to the Elite League next season given his performances, so there will be understandable delight at this morning’s announcement.

Brown has made no secret of his wish to play at a higher level again one day - he spent a total of three years at Sheffield Steelers, two as an apprentice - but, after seeing his last two seasons disrupted by injury and the Covid-19 pandemic, he is determined to continue enjoying his hockey in NIHL National.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Kieran Brown has led the way for Leeds Knights this season, scoring 49 goals and 48 assists in just 43 appearances. He will be back for the 2022-23 season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

To that end, the former Bradford Bulldogs junior insisted there was only one place he wanted to be next season.

“It couldn’t have been an easier decision for me,” said Brown, who for the majority of the season has formed a lethal combination with line-mates Brandon Whistle and Adam Barnes. “From what I’ve seen, done and been a part of this year, I’ve been really happy and Leeds is definitely the right place for me to be, both this season and next.

“It’s probably been one of the most fun and one of the best seasons I’ve ever had to be honest. It has definitely lived up to the expectations that I had. It’s been unbelievable.”

The Knights currently sit fifth in the NIHL National standings, 11 points off leaders Telford Tigers with 17 games remaining. And while the regular season championships is a long shot, Brown is confident the team can finish the season with some silverware, particularly after coming so close in the Autumn Cup.

Kieran Brown has had a steelar campaign for Leeds Knights and has agreed to return for more in the 2022-23 season. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“Right now, it’s going to be a big ask for the league, it will take a lot for us to pull that off,” he added. “So our main focus right now is definitely the play-offs because I think we definitely have the potential to win them.

“We’re in a god place right now and if in the meantime we happen to close the gap on those near the top, that will just be a bonus and who knows what can happen then? Like I’ve said before, anybody is beatable in this league right now.”

Team owner Steve Nell said more signings for the 2022-23 season would be revealed in the coming weeks - no doubt some of them being other members of the Knights’ current roster - but he admits he was keen to get the deal done with Brown as soon as possible, much like he was when getting him to sign originally last Spring.

“Kieran is the best forward in the league, he’s shown that,” said Nell. “That’s why we wanted to get him signed back up for next year as soon as we could.

Leeds Knights' team owner and managing director, Steve Nell. Picture: Steve Riding.

“We had a good conversation before he signed last summer about our expectations and he has more than lived up to them, he’s easily going to surpass them. We’re obviously very happy that he’s agreed to stay, he’s been great for us this year so far and I’m sure he’s going to have a great finish to the season.

“He is only going to get better and he’s obviously going to play at a higher level one day. But, like I said last year, if Kieran can get to the next level - whether it’s in the UK or abroad - then great, we’re more than happy to help him do that. If he can give us a couple of good years, we’ll be delighted.”