NIHL National: Leeds Knights retain top-four status after win at Raiders

LEEDS KNIGHTS ensured they remained in the top four of NIHL National after coming away from their long road trip to Raiders with a 3-1 win.

By Phil Harrison
Sunday, 6th March 2022, 9:19 pm
Kieran Brown is in a rich seam of form for Leeds Knights: Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.
Kieran Brown is in a rich seam of form for Leeds Knights: Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

It made up for the previous night’s defeat on home ice against leaders Telford Tigers, when they went down 5-3 - a result which effectively ended any lingering hopes they may have had of making a late surge for the regular-season league title.

Goaltender Sam Gospel provided the necessary backbone required for a road win - regardless of the opposition - turning away 35 of the 36 shots on his net to post a .972 save percentage. At the other end, Adam Barnes continued his rich vein of form - alongside first line mate Kieran Brown - opening the scoring for the Knights after a goalless first period with a power play strike at 22.27.

The hosts were soon level, however, when Tommy Huggett pounced just under four minutes later. But the parity didn’t last for long, Barnes and Matty Davies coming together to set up Brown for his first of the night at 29.55. But Raiders refused to buckle further and made life difficult for the visitors throughout the rest of the night, only being silenced with 11 seconds left on the clock when Brown doubled his tally with an empty-net strike.

Adam Barnes is on the top of his game at the moment for Leeds Knights. Picture: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia.

On Saturday, it was Brown who got off the Knights off to a dream start against Telford, putting his team ahead with just 28 seconds gone.

But Telford then spent the next 12 minutes or so showing why they remain favourites, quickly drawing level through Vladimir Luka at 5.04, Bayley Harewood then putting them ahead just over three minutes later. But then two goals in the space of 28 seconds effectively settled the game, Austin Mitchell-King making it 3-1 at 12.29 on the power play before Luka doubled his tally.

Leeds gave themselves some kind of lifeline through Lewis Baldwin’s power play effort at 17.59, but Telford restored their three-goal cushion with Luka’s hat-trick strike at 25.59.

Cole Shudra got on the board just after the halfway mark to reduce the deficit to two, but that was as far as the hosts could get.