Leeds Knights Weekend Review – 18th/19th February
LEEDS KNIGHTS brought the curtain down on a hectic schedule of six games in 10 days by posting another perfect weekend.
A 9-3 win at home to Telford Tigers on Saturday was followed by a 4-1 win at Basingstoke Bison 24 hours later as Ryan Aldridge’s team were able to stay top, two points ahead of Milton Keynes Lightning with a game in hand.
Milton Keynes ensured the pressure remained on the Knights with their own four-point haul, hammering Sheffield Steeldogs 11-2 before edging out third-placed Peterborough Phantoms 5-4 on the road.
That result leaves Peterborough eight points off the Knights with 13 games remaining.
In front of another 1,900-plus crowd, it was nip and tuck for the first 50 minutes between the Knights and Tom Watkins’s Tigers side, who had arrived at The Castle on the back of a three-game winning streak as they remain embroiled in a fierce battle to make the play-offs.
And it was the visitors who took the lead inside three minutes through Jack Watkins, the Knights not restoring parity until there were 31 seconds remaining in the period when Mac Howlett struck.
Strikes from Cole Shudra and Kieran Brown in just over a minute with each other early in the second put the hosts in control, a position they strengthened just after the halfway mark when Howlett doubled his tally.
The first five minutes of the third saw Leeds and Telford trade goals, the visitors hanging in the game first through Robert Hermann at 42.28 and then Scott McKenzie just under two minutes later.
In between Jake Witkowski struck on the power play to make it 5-2 before Jordan Griffin cancelled out McKenzie’s effort when his long ranger squeezed through Brad Day and over the line to restore the three-goal lead at 50.31.
That goal opened the floodgates briefly, Cole Shudra making it 7-3 with at 50.49 before Adam Barnes got in on the act soon after to extend the lead to five goals. Griffin completed the scoring with his second of the game, this time from the left circle, with 57 seconds remaining.
A tight affair in Basingstoke saw Shudra break the deadlock at 14.59, tapping home at the back post after good work by Zach Brooks.
Just over seven minutes of the second period had passed when the Knights doubled their lead, Witkowski combining well with Brooks and Sam Zajac to fire home.
He doubled his tally on the power play at 34.48 but the Bison kept things interesting when George Norcliffe beat Sam Gospel on a breakaway at 37.47.
With the threat of a comeback by the hosts always there, Brown got the insurance marker his team needed, firing home his own rebound at 47.18 to make it 4-1.