Sam Zajac named as first player-coach of new Leeds ice hockey team

NEW BOSS: Sam Zajac has been appointed as the new player-coach of Leeds' new ice hockey team for the 2019-20 season. Picture courtesy of Al Goold.Glasgow Clan
NEW BOSS: Sam Zajac has been appointed as the new player-coach of Leeds' new ice hockey team for the 2019-20 season. Picture courtesy of Al Goold.Glasgow Clan
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SAM ZAJAC has become the first building block for Leeds' new ice hockey team after being appointed as player-coach.

The team, whose name is yet to be finalised once the results of an online poll in the Yorkshire Evening Post are determined, will begin their inaugural season in September by competing in the newly-formed National League along with established Yorkshire rivals Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs.

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Zajac is an experienced defenceman in the British game, playing both in the top-tier Elite League as well as lower levels. He spent the majority of last season with hometown club Whitley Warriors in the NIHL, as well as making a handful of appearances in the EIHL with Manchester Storm.

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He previously spent three seasons with the Braehead Clan in the EIHL and has also played for Telford Tigers and Basingstoke Bison.

Leeds will be the 29-year-old's first foray into a head coaching role - he was a player-assistant coach at Whitley last season - and will now spend the coming weeks putting together a competitive team ahead of the new campaign.

"“I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be a part of bringing this new sporting venture to Leeds," said Zajac.

"We’re in the process of building a fast, hard-working, exciting team that the fans can really get behind, and one that will be competitive night in and night out in the new league."

“Leeds is a city that is famed for its enthusiastic sports fans and we can’t wait to get going in September."

Planet Ice chief operating officer Heath Rhodes said the advert for a coach to take on the new team at Elland Road had been met with huge interest after being placed in March before a shortlist of candidates was put together and interviewed in Leeds earlier this month, with Zajac being the standout candidate.