Leeds Knights and Bow Neely make long-term commitment to each other

AS last-minute additions go, Ryan Aldridge could not have been happier with the impact made on Leeds Knights by Bow Neely last season.

The 20-year-old defenceman played a huge role in the Knights’ ability to retain their NIHL National regular season league crown.

His signing was only confirmed a few days before the curtain was raised on the 2023-24 campaign, but he went on to be an ever-present thereafter, contributing much more than just the 41 points he accumulated in a total of 64 league, cup and play-off appearances.

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One of the team’s most consistent performers, Aldridge was keen to get Neely back and, thanks to the youngster securing a university place in Leeds for the next three years, the Knights’ head coach has got his wish - the Canadian-born blue liner having agreed a deal which keeps him at Elland Road until 2027.

LONG-TERM: Defenceman Bow Neely has signed a three-year deal with Leeds Knights. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.LONG-TERM: Defenceman Bow Neely has signed a three-year deal with Leeds Knights. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
LONG-TERM: Defenceman Bow Neely has signed a three-year deal with Leeds Knights. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“He’s a great young man, which is always a good starting point, but his work-rate, his professionalism and just the way he came into the team the way he did last year, meant I was very keen to bring him back,” said Aldridge, who first coached Neely at the Swindon-based Okanagan Hockey Academy between in 2019.

“He was a massive part of our success last season and I honestly don’t think we’d have had that success if he wasn’t there.

“He gave us more depth, more offence through his defensive game - he was just huge for us in so many different ways.”

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Neely’s wish to secure his university place was pivotal to where he would play his hockey in 2024-25.

GOOD DEAL: Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Jacob Lowe/Knights Media.GOOD DEAL: Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Jacob Lowe/Knights Media.
GOOD DEAL: Leeds Knights' head coach, Ryan Aldridge. Picture: Jacob Lowe/Knights Media.

“When we sat down and spoke initially, school and studying for him was a big thing,” added Aldridge. “That was going to be a key factor on whether he would come back or not.

“We were his first choice if he could get into university in Leeds - if not, he would have probably had to go back to North America.

“Luckily for us he has got into university here. He will be doing a three-year course, so it made sense for us to commit to him for three years too.

“He’s a bright lad and he’ll do well.”