Patrik Valcak using home comforts to help keep Leeds Chiefs playoff bid alive
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The 35-year-old Czech Republic forward ended an 18-month hiatus from the game when resurrecting his career in Leeds earlier this year and, along with other January signings, has had a positive impact.
His three-goal effort at Elland Road on Sunday night took his points tally to 12 from 13 games, including five goals.
But his sheer physical presence on the ice, combined with a productive line also featuring youngsters Lewis Houston and Adam Barnes, has been a big part of the Chiefs’ revival in a season that looked almost dead and buried after a miserable Christmas and New Year period.
The Chiefs enter the final four weeks of the regular season still 12 points adrift of the coveted eighth playoff spot and their attempts to make the post-season were made a touch harder after Raiders enjoyed a four-point weekend against Bracknell Bees, leapfrogging their Berkshire rivals into the top eight.
“It was a big, big win for us,” said Valcak. “It’s what Sam had been talking about before the weekend, that we have to pick up as many points as possible now.
“Saturday didn’t go so well down in Basingstoke and then, here, we were 2-0 down and it wasn’t going well.
“We were a little bit down but we stepped it up and got a two points from the weekend which is still good because it keeps us in that playoff picture.”
Valcak said he was enjoying playing alongside Houston and Barnes, quickly adding that he was the one who got “lucky” in taking the plaudits against the Steeldogs this time around.
“I don’t even remember the last time I scored a hat-trick, so that was obviously nice,” he added. “But we get lots of chances every game. Today it was just lucky that it went in for me, but
Adam, Lewis and me always get three or four good chances every game. I’m happy with how our line is going.”
And having played for two seasons at Manchester Storm in a similarly small rink as there now is in Leeds, Valcak said Elland Road was already an enjoyable place for the Chiefs to play, with over 700 attending the derby date against the Steeldogs.
“I can already feel that this Leeds arena will be a noisy place now and in the future - that makes the home games enjoyable and I’m enjoying the home games a lot - more than the away games,” he said.
“It’s a very good atmosphere here already. When I played over at Manchester Storm in a very similar arena, the Storm fans were very, very good - it can be the same here.”