Sam Gospel still hoping he can pull on Leeds Chiefs jersey again sooner rather than later
HIS immediate focus may be on the forthcoming Elite Series but netminder Sam Gospel hasn’t given up hope of pulling on a Leeds Chiefs jersey in the near future.
While Sheffield Steeldogs, Telford Tigers, Swindon Wildcats, Raiders IHC and Bees IHC, head into the final round of games for the Spring Cup - the competition already won by Greg Wood’s team ends on Sunday - Leeds Chiefs are among the five other NIHL National teams to have watched from the sidelines.
Hopes still remain that another second-tier competition will take place, probably in May, with some of those teams yet to see the ice for the first time since March last year potentially involved.
Last week, Chiefs’ owners Planet Ice, said they would consider any proposals that were made for a third behind-closed-doors competition involving NIHL National teams but, until such a moment, they were focussing on putting a competitive team and product together for the start of the 2021-22 season.
Gospel was one of the star turns of the Chiefs’ inaugural campaign last time out, winning netminder of the year despite the Elland Road outfit finishing bottom of the standings in a season which was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
He was one of a handful of signings announced by player-coach Sam Zajac before it became clear the pandemic would also rob teams of the 2020-21 regular season.
Like most players, the 26-year-old from Nottingham has endured a frustrating few months, only stepping foot on the ice on a handful of occasions.
But, next week, that will change when he hooks up with Manchester Storm for the Elite Series which will be staged at the National Ice Centre, a venue he knows so well.
Once that is over, however, in early May, Gospel - who has found work as a customer service rep with Nottingham-based Standard Motor Parts Europe during lockdown - is hoping he can continue to play and practice with the Chiefs.
“I think all of us are hoping that the Chiefs and the remaining clubs do go for it and get involved if another competition does go ahead,” said Gospel. “
“It is needed at this point. I think we’ve sat out long enough and with everything seeming to be approaching some kind of normality, there needs to be a bit of a push and a jump into the unknown where we just go for it and get the boys back together.
“A lot of us, the players, have taken the opportunity to get on with things away from the ice, which has been nice but it will be fantastic to get back out there as the Chiefs again, pick up where we left off which seems so long ago.
“I actually think we finished quite well and once we got in that new building, you felt something was starting to build.
“I’d love to get back to Leeds and get it going again. And, if so, hopefully, we can attract the same group that Sammy had lined up for this season but which wasn’t able to play together.”
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