Raiders IHC 0 Leeds Chiefs 4 - Shut-out road win gets Chiefs up and running in NIHL National
WHEN it finally came, it was well worth waiting for.
There were many historic firsts to be had for Leeds Chiefs from their Sunday trip to Essex to face Raiders IHC.
Most satisfying of all to the entire group heading back up the M1 last night will have been registering their first-ever win - a comprehensive 4-0 triumph over in-form hosts.
Add to that a first-ever shut-out and, by no means least, a first hat-trick for the club, courtesy of two-way forward Adam Barnes.
Not surprisingly, player-coach Sam Zajac was a delighted boss on a the team bus heading back to West Yorkshire, perhaps a little relieved also with his team finally getting off the mark at the sixth attempt.
“It’s been a long time coming but that makes this all the sweeter,” said Zajac. “All the boys were fantastic but, to be honest, from the first day in they’ve all done what we’ve asked of them and it’s great to see it all finally bear fruit.
“We thought we would try and tick all the boxes at once by getting a shut-out too. Gossie (netminder Sam Gospel) has been great all season for us and he showed again tonight how good he is when he’s on his game.
“They had some chances but we could have carried on playing all night and we’d have still got the shut-out so he was fantastic.
“Barnesy was obviously great, that top line with him, Radek (Meidl) and Arch (James Archer) was dangerous all night.
“We came out and had a great first 10 minutes, really set the tone and pressured them all over the ice and didn’t let them settle into their game.
“We built off that start as the game went on but credit to them because they definitely caused us some problems but, fortunately, we just had a little bit more tonight.”
It was Barnes who got things up and running for the visitors with 16.56 on the board when he fired home his first of what would prove a memorable night.
A goalless second period followed but the Chiefs were quick to double their lead in the third when Barnes grabbed his second at 41.29, going on to make it 3-0 just under 10 minutes later.
To round off a fine night for himself having contributed three assists, James Archer made it 4-0 on the power play at 55.100 - assisted by that man Barnes.
The result wasn’t enough to lift the Chiefs off the bottom of the NIHL National standings but they will take confidence into next weekend’s road trips to Swindon and Hull.