JAMES ARCHER believes Leeds Chiefs can prove to be a surprise package in NIHL National division this season, writes Phil Harrison.
Leeds face-off in their first-ever game at Sheffield Steeldogs tomorrow (4.30pm), the curtain-raiser for the division after it was created in the summer to become the British game’s new second tier.
Archer is one of a number of experienced veterans recruited by player-coach Sam Zajac, who was handed the task of putting together the city’s first-ever semi-professional ice hockey team back in May.
It’s going to be an interesting year and, hopefully, we’ll do alright and surprise a few people.Leeds Chiefs’ James Archer
But, despite having to begin his recruiting later than all their division rivals, Archer is impressed with the strength of the roster assembled by his new boss.
“I really think we’ve got a decent core to the roster,” said Sheffield-born Archer, who won the treble last year in NIHL North One with Hull Pirates. “Obviously, Sammy was late to recruiting guys but he’s done really well with who he has brought in.
“It’s going to be an interesting year and, hopefully, we’ll do alright and surprise a few people.
“It is a brand new set-up so there are going to be teething problems, but we’ve all been around and we’re all experienced enough to get over them and, all being well, we can get off to a flier.”
On Sunday’s opener against the Steeldogs, Archer is anticipating a welcome derby atmosphere to the curtain-raising clash.
“It is going to be special when we all step out on that rink for the first time,” added Archer. “It is the season opener for the new league as a whole and it is the only game in the division that weekend.
“So there will be quite a bit of hype and the fact that it is Leeds-Sheffield, it’s a derby so there might be that animosity (that comes with that) from the get-go.