Leeds Knights confident but able to stay grounded in race for NIHL National title
While that last comment might come across as arrogant to some, it shouldn’t. When you have had the kind of campaign the Knights have so far during 2022-23, they have every right to be bursting with self-belief.
The reassuring thing for Aldridge, however, is that he has no worries about his team’s confidence developing into over-confidence.
One thing he has not had to do much of this season is bring his players down to earth whenever they have racked up another milestone, or posted their latest four-point weekend.
Top of the table they may be – three points clear of their nearest rivals Milton Keynes Lightning and Peterborough over who they also have three games in hand – but Aldridge insists the Knights’ lofty position is never something that comes up in his team’s locker room chats.
“The simple fact of the matter is that we just don’t talk about it, it doesn’t come up in our conversations, we just don’t talk about being top of the league,” said Aldridge.
“We’re full of confidence and so we should be. But we’ve also got to remain realistic and remember that, this weekend for example, we’re playing against a team that can beat anybody on any given night.”
Being the hunted for the majority of the season can prove tiring work, added Aldridge, particularly with every team desperate to hurt the Knights in their own building.
“It is tough because every team that comes into your building wants to beat you,” he explained. “And while that is good for us as a group, it’s also tiring because other teams always play so hard against us.
“With the team we’ve got, we have players who are big competitors and want to compete hard every night.
“We have a belief in the group that we are a good team. I’m a firm believer that the locker room is a massive part of whether a team wins and loses and I believe we’ve got the right balance of everything.
“They want to be successful for each other – they are dlalled in.”
Elsewhere this weekend, Sheffield Steeldogs will hope to keep up the pressure on the top three by extending their three-game winning streak in their double-header against Swindon Wildcats.
The Steeldogs head to Wiltshire this evening before hosting Aaron Nell’s team at Ice Sheffield tomorrow (4.30pm).
Hull Seahawks are looking to snap a six-game losing streak and boost their play-off hopes when they host Basingstoke Bison tomorrow (5.30pm).