Zajac’s Chiefs’ team found out earlier this week that they must wait until December before playing out of their new Elland Road rink due to delays in the construction, with their scheduled home opener against Sheffield Steeldogs on November 3 now being played in Blackburn.
The Chiefs were already scheduled to play their first 10 NIHL National games on the road and, after picking up their first win of the season at the sixth attempt against Raiders IHC last Sunday, now head into a weekend that will seriously test their credentials.
Before they take on Hewitt’s Pirates, they first have to negotiate their way past Swindon Wildcats, who last night went top of the standings after a late winner saw them defeat hosts Sheffield 3-2.
Hewitt’s team head to Basingstoke Bison tonight looking to arrest a four-game losing streak, while also dealing with the absence of key players through injury and suspension.
“For what Sammy’s done I’ve got a lot of respect for him because it’s not easy to recruit three or four guys, let alone a whole team like he has had to do during the summer,” said Hewitt.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s like not having a rink to play or practice in.
“I know when ours gets shut it is a nightmare trying to prepare, but Sammy seems to be the kind of guy that can roll with that stuff and manage to keep his guys motivated.”
Earlier this week, Pirates’ owner Shane Smith issued a statement reassuring fans that the club was actively seeking to bring in new blood.
Hewitt will be without influential forward Matty Davies, who sustained a lower body injury in last weekend’s 6-3 loss at Swindon, while captain and defenceman Jamie Chilcott remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.
Add to that the last game of a four-match suspension for forward Bobby Chamberlain and it is little surprise the Pirates are looking for a roster boost.
“Ideally we’d like some bodies in, but if it doesn’t happen then so be it,” added Hewitt.
“There will never be any excuses, we’re short of bodies and we went through the same thing last year.
“Last season you could get away with it apart from the games against Sheffield and Telford, but in this new league there’s no let-up, no break from the quality of opposition you are facing every weekend.”