Leeds Knights - Captain Kieran Brown salutes 'dedication' that delivered second NIHL National league title

KIERAN BROWN insists there is no secret to Leeds Knights’ success – it’s just down to a simple combination of hard work and dedication.

The Knights sealed a second straight NIHL National regular season title triumph on Sunday evening when a 6-3 win over Bees IHC on home ice ensured they could no longer be caught.

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The writing had been on the wall for a number of weeks for their rivals, including Milton Keynes Lightning, the second-placed team who beat them 7-4 on Saturday night to at least delay the celebrations for another 24 more hours.

CHAMPION: Kieran Brown celebrates Leeds Knights' NIHL National regular season league title success on Sunday night. Picture: Jacob Lowe/Knights Media.CHAMPION: Kieran Brown celebrates Leeds Knights' NIHL National regular season league title success on Sunday night. Picture: Jacob Lowe/Knights Media.
CHAMPION: Kieran Brown celebrates Leeds Knights' NIHL National regular season league title success on Sunday night. Picture: Jacob Lowe/Knights Media.
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Now all eyes will be on the Knights to see if they can emulate last year’s league and play-off double, the post-season kicking into action on the weekend of April 5-7.

For captain Brown (pictured), handed the ‘C’ at the beginning of the 2022-23 campaign, any success that has come the team’s way has been hard-earned.

“There is no secret (to our success),” said Brown, following Sunday’s celebrations.

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“It’s just down to a lot of hard work and dedication by everyone and making sure we’re listening to Ryan (head coach, Ryan Aldridge) because he’s a really good coach and he knows what he’s doing.

“We play the same way every night and we’ve been rewarded with another league title.”

Although the Knights retained a large core of last year’s team, there were several changes made to the roster. It prompted some doubters to question whether they could repeat last year’s success.

“I think with the loss of some of the players who didn’t come back, everyone is going to doubt whether you can do the same the following season," added Brown. “And it’s hard to go back-to-back.

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“But I think we’ve proved a lot of people wrong - hopefully we can do it again next year and win the league for a third time.”

Brown believes a key moment in the Knights’ season came when they were knocked out of the NIHL National Cup at the semi-final stage by Yorkshire rivals Hull Seahawks.

They then embarked on a run of 14 games which saw them lose just once – a 1-0 defeat at Swindon – before Saturday’s reverse in Milton Keynes. Essentially, when it came to the business end of the season, they delivered.

“When we played Hull, I guess we were in a little bit of a slump,” added Brown. “It was a bit of a reset for us and we moved on quickly as a team. We came together as a team, did a few things and then there we were on Sunday lifting the trophy.”

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The Knights still have four games remaining on the schedule, starting with this weekend’s double-header against Sheffield Steeldogs.

Play-off chasing Solway Sharks visit Elland Road Ice Arena on Friday, March 29, before the champions close out with a trip to Hull.

When the play-offs kick into the life the following weekend, it returns to the group style used at the end of the 2021-22 NIHL National season, with two groups of four teams playing each other home and away.

The top two from each group will then go through to the Finals Weekend at Coventry’s SkyDome Arena on April 27-28.