Leeds Knights suffer against Telford Tigers but Autumn Cup showdown with Sheffield Steeldogs may bring respite

LEEDS KNIGHTS saw their losing streak extended to five games after coming off second-best twice in their weekend double-header against Telford Tigers.

By Phil Harrison
Sunday, 7th November 2021, 10:11 pm
TOUGH GOING: Leeds Knights forward Brandon Whistle - six goals, two assists, no wins. Picture James Hardisty
TOUGH GOING: Leeds Knights forward Brandon Whistle - six goals, two assists, no wins. Picture James Hardisty

You have to spare a thought for Brandon Whistle, though, scorer of six goals and two assists across the two games, but still with no win to show for his efforts.

Also have some sympathy for new goaltender Tyler Perre, drafted in on a two-way deal at the last minute from Bristol Pitbulls in the division below just hours before the first meeting between the two teams at Elland Road on Saturday.

Just under 36 hours and 15 goals later, he will have been left with a good idea of what life would be like in NIHL National were he ever to make the step up on a permanent basis.

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These are certainly tough times for Dave Whistle’s team, but there is still plenty of time to turn things around, although they will be hoping a return to winning ways can come quickly.

In just three days’ time, they take on Sheffield Steeldogs in the first leg of their Autumn Cup semi-final at Ice Sheffield.

In the meantime, they will have to reflect on another weekend of frustration, an 8-5 defeat coming hot on the heels of Saturday’s 7-4 defeat on home ice.

In both games, the Knights were proving a good match for Tom Watkins’ experienced Telford roster. But each encounter was lost in a short six-minute spell where Leeds conceded too many goals.

Coach Dave Whistle has seen his Leeds Knights lose five games on the trot. Picture: James Hardisty

On Sunday, that crucial spell came around the halfway mark with the Knights 4-3 ahead through a first-period hat-trick from Whistle and a 25th-minute power play strike from Adam Barnes.

An equaliser on the man advantage from Jason Silverthorn at 29.49 saw momentum swing back to Telford and was followed six minutes later by two goals within 36 seconds, Austin Mitchell-King putting the hosts ahead before Finley Howells made it 6-4 at 35.49.

A strike just 19 seconds into the third from Jonathan Weaver added to the Knights’ woes and although they gave themselves hope through a 49th-minute effort from Kieran Brown, they couldn’t close the gap, Corey Goodison adding a last-minute, empty-net strike.

On Saturday, a replenished Knights - boosted by the return of defencemen Ben Solder and Ross Kennedy, plus the return of two-way forward Harry Gulliver and addition of new, on-loan centre Philip Edgar - more than matched the Tigers, going in at the end of 40 minutes tied at 2-2.

Kieran Brown was again in the points for Leeds Knights, scoring two goals and five assists in the two defeats to Telford Tigers. Picture: James Hardisty

But a nightmare spell at the beginning of the third saw the hosts concede four goals in quickfire fashion, allowing Telford to establish a stranglehold they never relinquished.

Once again, however, the shortage of scoring options was evident, with all four goals coming from the usual suspects, the one highlight being a hat-trick for Whistle, who added an assist into the bargain.

It was that assist that had got the Knights on the board in the 19th minute, Whistle’s endeavours helping set up Brown to cancel out a strike three minutes earlier from Silverthorn.

Like on home ice the following night, the Tigers’ captain was to enjoy a prolific night of his own, being in the thick of it again when helping to set up Scott McKenzie in putting the visitors ahead again at 24.16.

That lead lasted until there were just 70 seconds remaining in the period when Whistle fired home his first of the night.

But within just a few minutes of the restart, the game was lost for the Knights, with that man Silverthorn at the heart of their problems, scoring twice within 24 seconds inside the first minute of the third to make it 4-2.

Whistle was quick to reply with his second at 42.23 to make it a one-goal game again but, just over a minute later, Richard Plant restored the two-goal cushion, with the lead being stretched further at 46.12 by Joe Aston.

Any faint glimmer of a comeback was extinguished at 54.13 when Aston grabbed his second of the night, Whistle grabbing a late consolation and with it his hat-trick with just seven seconds remaining on the clock.