by John Powney (@Powns)
THE SEASON YET TO COME
For many years Leeds have been missing an ice rink, therefore an ice hockey team, but the wait is now almost over.
Since 2012 we have had an ice rink in the pipeline and in the next few months this will become a a reality when Planet Ice Leeds opens its doors and lets in the ‘Leeds Chiefs’.
When you look on any social media platform over the last few months and search for sport in Leeds, the first thing you will see is that ice hockey is coming and at a high speed.
The excitement is palpable around the new ‘Leeds Chiefs’ Ice Hockey team and with good reason. Those not in the know about ice hockey need to sit up and pay attention to the new kid on the block in Leeds.
Everyone needs to feel the exhilaration of an ice hockey match. When all the lights go off, and the sirens start – the drop in the music, and the players come racing on.
It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, a feeling almost like electricity coursing throughout your body.
The first few matches are away games, to allow for the final touches to be added to our new Ice Arena, with the first home game due to be a packed out event, on Sunday 3rd November against the Sheffield Steeldogs – get your tickets early.
The Chiefs have been recruiting players for the last few months now under the direction of Sam Zajac. Sam was the first appointment for the Chiefs this year as head coach and player – since then he has forged a strong and vibrant team around him.
With some superb signings, showing the strength the newly formed team has, it has attracted the best new talent.
The team is a harmonious blend of youth and experience with players from the EIHL/ NIHL, OHL and Czech & Polish leagues.
Going into the summer the team was not yet complete, with many signings still to be announced, but now the lineup is complete and there are some stellar talents who I am sure will make the Chiefs a force to be reckoned with.
Some notable signings and players to to look out for this season are; Sam Gospel from the EIHL – Nottingham Panthers and Andres Kopstals who joins us from Canadian leagues, where he has been described as the heartbeat of their team.
He will no doubt be playing alongside the massive Radek Meidl, a towering 6’3” giant. They will be a force to be reckoned with. The team were out in Leeds for a meet and greet on the 7th September with the jerseys being revealed for the first time.
HeartFM’s very own Rich Williams doing the reveal and the players Sam Zajac, Luke Boothroyd and James Archer modelling – we have been assured that there will be a family meet and greet in the near future so watch this space.
Being a brand new league in this format, it’s very much a mixed bag of expectation. There is a strong sense of enthusiasm amongst supporters that the Leeds Chiefs can do well in their inaugural season and there is no reason why they cannot.
They have a very strong net minder line up with Gospel, some outstanding defenders including Leeds’ very own Bobby Streetly and Luke Boothroyd, who has played for team GB.
Top that off with first class forwards that excel at goal scoring and assists, we have lot to be excited about in the coming months and years ahead.
No doubt Milton Keynes will be full of bluster this season having just come down from the Elite League, and may well be favourites to win, but with their all new line-up its still all up for grabs and the Leeds Chiefs have an excellent chance of getting to the top.
We may well see some rivalries flair up too with the Sheffield Steeldogs being a fellow Yorkshire team and strong this year it really is all to play for.
MY TOP LINE
G – Sam Gospel
D – Luke Boothroyd – Bobby Streetly
F – Radek Meidl – James Archer – Joe Coulter