Leeds Knights: Oli Endicott on promising start to season and Coventry Blaze call-up
Before the Knights had even got their league title defence underway, the 19-year-old forward took a big step when he was handed a chance to ice for Elite League outfit Coventry Blaze.
The Swindon-born winger - who hopes to represent GB Under-20s at the World Championships in Dumfries later this year - iced for the Blaze in a pre-season challenge game at the SkyDome Arena against Nottingham Panthers, playing alongside former Leeds Knights’ defenceman, Archie Hazeldine.
The Blaze lost 4-1 but Endicott acquitted himself well and is happier for having tasted life at the higher level for the first time in his career.
“I’d never trained let alone played with an Elite League team before, so it was great to know that Coventry were asking about me and wanted me to play,” said Endicott.
“It was a great experience for me, a big step up but I really enjoyed it. It was a massive opportunity for me and I loved it. The hockey was obviously very, very good - a different level - with lots of very good imports and good Brits, but it was good to get the ice time and see what that league is all about.
“It’s given me a taste of what life is like at that level and it would be good to get there eventually but, for now, I’m just focussing on where I am now with Leeds and getting better as a player here.
"Maybe in the future, I can make that step up.”
Having joined the Knights midway through last season – following a short spell playing junior hockey in Finland – Endicott has gone on to make himself a popular member of the team.
This season has seen him start promisingly, building on his 2022-23 campaign in blue and yellow. He has posted two goals and two assists in the first four league games.
Both his goals came over the weekend just gone, including his first-ever strike on home ice at ‘The Castle’ – a ‘special moment’ he particularly enjoyed.
"I’m very happy with how I’m playing at the moment,” added Endicott, ahead of a weekend double-header against Milton Keynes Lightning. “I think Ryan’s happy with me and the boys seem pretty chuffed with me, too.
"Scoring my first goal in Leeds was a pretty big moment for me. And then to score again the following night was pretty crazy, so I’m pretty happy with how I’ve started the season.
"It’s early doors but it’s always good to be unbeaten – everyone else has lost a game and we haven’t yet. The train is rolling at the moment, the boys are pretty upbeat and this is a massive weekend coming up for us.”