Leeds Knights switch focus in order to carry winning momentum into NIHL National post-season
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Last Sunday’s trophy presentation celebrations at Elland Road Ice Arena that came a week after clinching the regular season crown in Telford, will live long in the memory for players, staff and fans - and rightly so.
But come Tuesday morning, those who have regularly attended that particular practice session - those living locally or living close enough and free from work commitments - were soon aware of the hard work that still remains in 2022-23.
Thursday night’s full practice ensured everybody was ‘on message’ in terms of switching the focus back to the job in hand of this weekend’s double-header against second-placed Milton Keynes Lightning.
A week later the play-offs begin.
For a long time, the neutrals, even the fans of both teams, wanted this weekend to be one that decided the destination of the title, the rivals - along with Peterborough Phantoms for company - pushing each other close at the top for the vast majority of the season.
But Leeds’ ridiculous consistency ensured that was not to be. So far this season, Leeds have only lost four times in regulation. Head coach Ryan Aldridge wants to keep it that way.
“This week and this weekend is about maintaining momentum and our level of performance,” said Aldridge, ahead of tonight’s trip to Buckinghamshire before Sunday’s renewal at Elland Road (face-off 5.15pm).
“It’s about making sure we get our focus back and so we had a good, hard practice on Thursday to get back into it.
“We don’t just want to turn up next week and think about the play-offs then, it’s got to start this week - we still want to go out there this weekend and win two hockey games.”
The Knights will find out this weekend whether it is Basingstoke Bison or Telford Tigers who they will face in the first round of the post-season.
Either way, Aldridge aims to ensure his players are primed and ready to try and add the play-off trophy to the one they collected last Sunday for the league.
“I don’t think we’re bothered about who we face in the play-offs really,” he added. “Sometimes teams try and maybe throw games in order to face somebody different but I think that’s just really bad karma.
"I just think if you want to win it you’ve got to beat everybody in front of you on the ice, so you might as well just go for it and try to keep winning.”