MK Lightning v Leeds Knights: Aldridge keen for young Knights to seize control

RYAN ALDRIDGE is not surprised that Milton Keynes Lightning are among the front-runners for the NIHL National regular season title.

By Phil Harrison
Saturday, 29th January 2022, 6:55 am
Updated Saturday, 29th January 2022, 10:02 am
Leeds Knights head coach, Ryan Aldridge 
Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Leeds Knights head coach, Ryan Aldridge Picture: Bruce Rollinson

And while he is confident his Leeds Knights team are a comfortable match when it comes to pure talent, he believes their opponents on a crunch double-header weekend which gets underway in Buckinghamshire today have the edge when it comes to maturity and experience.

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It was that maturity, that experience that Aldridge believes saw Sheffield Steeldogs exact swift revenge on the Knights when the two met for a second time in three days at Ice Sheffield last Sunday.

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Jason Hewitt, left, was instrumental in Sheffield Steeldogs beating Leeds knights 3-2 at Ice Sheffield last Sunday. Picture courtesy of Peter Best .

Leeds had prevailed 4-3 with a dramatic winner seven seconds from time from Cole Shudra two nights earlier, but lost out 3-2 in South Yorkshire.

It meant the Knights took four points from a possible six on a hectic weekend having sandwiched a convincing 6-1 win at Raiders IHC in between.

“You look down the Milton Keynes line-up and it is easy to see why they are up there pushing for the title – they are a very highly-skilled hockey team, there’s no doubt about that,” said Aldridge.

“I think they are a little bit deeper than us, have a few more numbers. They are a mature, skilled hockey team, we are a young skilled hockey team – that is the big difference.

“It’s about game management, absolutely. It’s about how we handle things, the way we were as a team on Saturday when things were going smoothly (in London) to the way we were when we had to face a little bit of adversity (in Sheffield), we saw a change in the team.

“You are going to lose some hockey games, it’s about how you lose them.

“That is a thing we are talking a lot about at the moment – we’ve got to control our emotions, control our mindset.

“The more experienced players on that team (Sheffield), people like Hewey (forward Jason Hewitt) won that game for them by finding the right amount of time and space – and that kind of thing comes with experience.”