The 27-year-old is new team owner Steve Nell’s first signing ahead of the 2021-22 regular NIHL National season which it is hoped can start in September.
The 2020-21 campaign was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, although a handful of second tier teams did manage to compete in two behind-closed-doors competitions, October’s three-team Streaming Series being followed by the five-team Spring Cup which finished at the end of March.
Gospel couldn’t get any ice time in either competition, but has been able to renew his love for the game after being chosen by Manchester Storm head coach Ryan Finnerty for the Elite Series. He has been back on the ice on a daily basis for the first time in over 12 months and got impressed when getting the start in the 4-3 defeat to Coventry Blaze in the group stages.
Gospel has plenty of fond memories from the Chiefs’ debut season in 2019-20, enough to convince him to come back for more.
“I loved playing for Leeds and I want to be a part of a group that we can build into something successful and special by improving on the good team that we already had last time out,” said Gospel.
“This time we will be able to start off on a level playing field with the other nine teams by having a proper pre-season, something we didn’t get last time around. It will be exciting to see the kind of team Steve and the new coach put together.”
Nell, who took over ownership of the team last Friday from Elland Road rink owners Planet Ice, said Gospel was one of his top priorities in terms of player signings.
“Sam is a great lad and obviously a great goalie,” said Nell. “We needed to get him on board quickly before somebody else signed him for next season, which they would have done. He’s a big piece of our roster for next season.”
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