NIHL National - Sam Gospel thriving for Leeds Chiefs as Hull Pirates eye bounce back

SAM GOSPEL says he is thriving on the responsibility of being 
No 1 netminder for Leeds Chiefs and is backing them to make the NIHL National playoffs.

THRIVING: Leeds Chiefs' netminder, Sam Gospel. Picture courtesy of Steve Brodie.

The Nottingham-born goalie has consistently been the subject of praise and admiration from team-mates and opponents alike throughout the Chiefs’ debut campaign, one that has been beset by problems both on and off the ice, not least the fact that they are still waiting to even practice at their Elland Road rink.

Heading into tonight’s encounter at Peterborough Phantoms, the Chiefs sit bottom of the standings after 19 games, seven points adrift of Raiders IHC, who occupy the eighth and final play-off spot.

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But, according to Gospel, there is little hint of panic within the Chiefs’ locker room about their current situation.

Jason Hewitt leads his Hull team into Swindon tonight before hosting Milton Keynes on Sunday. Picture courtesy of Tony Sargent.

And in Gospel they have a netminder who they can rely on night in, night out, with the 25-year-old boasting the fourth-highest save percentage (89.92) in the league in a season which has seen his goal peppered by an average of 39.11 shots per game – far more than any of his goaltending rivals.

Busy he may be, but it is a situation Gospel is more than comfortable with.

“It has been a tough few weeks,” said Gospel as the Chiefs head into tonight’s encounter on the back of a four-game losing streak. “We’ve obviously not had the results that we wanted but, on a personal level, I feel like I’m playing well and enjoying it.

“It’s nice to have those games where you are not so busy but, so far, this season I’ve been kind of peppered with shots in every game – but I thrive off the pressure and responsibility so it’s good to be that guy again, the one that teams have to rely on.”

Elsewhere tonight, Hull Pirates will look to bounce back from defeats to Milton Keynes Lightning and leaders Telford Tigers when they head to second-placed Swindon Wildcats.

They then head back home ready for tomorrow’s visit from Milton Keynes (5.30pm).

Sheffield Steeldogs will look to build on last Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win at Bracknell Bees when they head to Basingstoke.

They then have the chance to do a quickfire double over Bracknell when the Berkshire club visit Ice Sheffield tomorrow (4.30pm).