Leeds Chiefs urged to close out while Hull Pirates aim to pressure top three

FLASHBACK: Leeds Chiefs player-coach Sam Zajac, left, in action against Telford earlier in the season.  Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie
FLASHBACK: Leeds Chiefs player-coach Sam Zajac, left, in action against Telford earlier in the season. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie
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ALTHOUGH it is far from critical status in Leeds Chiefs’ inaugural season, player-coach Sam Zajac is urging his players to begin ‘closing the deal’ more often.

Another 48 hours on the road for the Chiefs’ homeless roster sees them head for a third time this season to NIHL National title hopefuls Telford Tigers, before staging a ‘home’ game at Milton Keynes Lightning tomorrow.

In the last couple of weeks we’ve been up by two goals in a couple of games and we’ve let it slip. We need to find a way to overcome that – we need to close the game out.

Leeds Chiefs’ player-coach, Sam Zajac

The slightly bizarre status of tomorrow’s game will probably not be lost on fans of either club – a team from Leeds playing host … in the ‘visitors’ own rink.

And with the earliest home game scheduled at the incomplete Elland Road venue now set to be the middle of January at the earliest – there is, of course, every chance it could be pushed back again – be ready for a run of similar ‘home’ matches for the Chiefs which will see them play ‘host’ in destinations as far and wide as Peterborough, Coventry, Basingstoke and Blackburn.

As it stands, we are still only a third of the way through the season, meaning bottom-of-the-table Chiefs have plenty of time to turn themselves into a genuine playoff contender.

But Zajac knows that in order for that to happen his team need to start closing out games where they have got themselves into commanding positions.

“We can hang with every team in this league, we know we’ve got the players capable of doing that but I think it is almost a mental hurdle sometimes for us to turn these narrow losses into wins –just seeing games out, improving our game management,” said Zajac. “In the last couple of weeks we’ve been up by two goals in a couple of games and we’ve let it slip. We need to find a way to overcome that – we need to close the game out.”

Elsewhere in NIHL National, Hull Pirates could do the Chiefs a favour when they travel to Milton Keynes tonight before heading home to host Telford tomorrow.

Sheffield Steeldogs, with one win in five, head to Bracknell Bees tomorrow.