Category: Weekend Preview

February 16th, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

The title battle in NIHL South 2 is really hotting up and all of the top three are in action this weekend as Oxford, Solent and Bracknell each play one game.

Saturday is extremely busy with five games scheduled. League leaders Oxford travel to east London to take on bottom club Lee Valley, while Solent are also on their travels in London as they face Haringey at Ally Pally. Other games on Saturday are Chelmsford’s trip to Cardiff, Invicta hosting Basingstoke and Guildford welcoming Swindon to the Spectrum.

Bracknell play on Sunday as they travel to Oxford to take on the Bristol Pitbulls, while Chelmsford play for the second time in the weekend as they host Slough – a side that beat them earlier in the season. Finally both Lee Valley and Basingstoke also play their second games of the weekend, with the Lions travelling to Hampshire to take on the Buffalo.

Saturday

Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Chelmsford Chieftains

Cardiff stand a good chance of moving up into the playoff spots if they pick up a win on Saturday, but it won’t be all that easy as they host Chelmsford.

Cardiff (7 wins/10 regulation losses, 14 points) are currently 10th in the table but are just two points behind Slough in seventh and Haringey in eighth, with Bristol sitting in between on 15 points. There’s a real logjam for the final two playoff spots and at this stage of the season, every game counts. Saturday’s match will be Cardiff’s third consecutive fixture against a former South 1 side, and they’ll be hoping it’s third time lucky for them, after losing 8-2 against Solent and 8-1 away to Oxford City.

Chelmsford (10 wins/5 regulation losses, 20 points) have had a very up-and-down month. After being upset by Slough on 20 January, they crushed Swindon 11-3 the next day. They followed that up by losing by almost the same score (11-4) to Oxford City, before defeating Basingstoke by 10 goals a fortnight ago. The Chieftains’ position in the table seems safe—they are only in sixth, four points ahead of Slough and Haringey, but they have plenty of games in hand. However, they will need to make those extra games count if they’re going to move up the table at all.

This will be the first meeting between the two clubs this season, and it’s not as easy to predict as it might seem. On paper, Chelmsford are stronger. But they’ve lost to Slough and Bristol this season, and Cardiff are usually pretty good at home.

Don’s Prediction: Cardiff 4-6 Chelmsford
Laurence’s Prediction: Cardiff 4-6 Chelmsford

Invicta Mustangs vs Basingstoke Buffalo

An entertaining clash can be expected on Saturday as 11th placed Invicta host 12th placed Basingstoke, with both sides looking to force their way into the playoff places.

Invicta (5 wins/14 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 11 points) have had an up-and-down season, taking five wins but also going on several losing streaks. They have not been able to take back-to-back wins yet this campaign, and are currently on a three game losing streak. However their last game was a promising 1-3 defeat to a strong Bracknell side, which was not the heavy defeat that a lot of people would have expected. The Mustangs will hope to carry that momentum into this game against their neighbours in the table.

Basingstoke (4 wins/12 regulation loss/2 OT losses, 10 points) have also had a rollercoaster campaign, winning four of their first nine games but then suffering defeat in each of the nine games since. They are now six points outside the playoff places, and if they want to have any chance of making their season stretch into mid-April, they need to start winning soon. As always, their keys to success are goalie Aaron Craft, who is playing a lot better than the raw numbers suggest, and import Blair Dubyk who is the team’s main scoring threat.

These are two sides who still have an outside chance of playing in the post-season, so expect fireworks in this game. It is really hard to call and could very well go to OT as the two sides seem evenly matched. Basingstoke won the reverse tie 6-3 earlier in the season, but after their recent losing streak, it remains to be seen whether they can come out on top in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Invicta 5-4 Basingstoke (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 4-3 Basingstoke (OT)

Lee Valley Lions vs Oxford City Stars

On paper, this game looks like a formality as the league leading Oxford City Stars travel to east London to face a Lions side sitting 13 places and 33 points below them.

Lee Valley (14 regulation losses/3 OT losses, 3 points) have somehow still not managed to clinch a win yet this season, despite improving dramatically in the last few months – three overtime losses are a testament to that. They are only four points behind 13th placed Swindon so all is not lost for George Alley’s side, if they can put a run of wins together. However this is probably not the opponent that such a run will start against.

Oxford (18 wins/2 regulation losses, 36 points) continue to lead the standings, although they lost the lead for 24 hours last weekend after Solent’s Saturday win over Cardiff. The City Stars retook the lead on Sunday however, after beating the same Cardiff side 8-1. The game against the Lions is simply a must-win for the Stars with both Solent and Bracknell breathing down their necks, and you would put good money on the yellows to get the win in this one.

The Lions will give it their all as always, but it’s hard to expect anything else than an Oxford win, although it likely won’t be anywhere near as big as their 18-1 win back in December over the same opponents.

Don’s Prediction: Lee Valley 1-10 Oxford
Laurence’s Prediction: Lee Valley 2-10 Oxford

Guildford Phoenix vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Guildford have been a breath of fresh air in the league this year, the newcomers sitting fifth and locked in an exciting battle with Peterborough and Chelmsford for fourth place in the league. They host a Swindon side currently sitting second from bottom.

The Phoenix (11 wins/7 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 23 points) have exceeded expectations this season, already picking up 11 wins out of their 19 games to date. The talent in the team was never in doubt, but the way they have been able to gel together and take so many strong wins has been impressive. We mention them almost every week, but player-coach Andrew Hemmings (35 points) and fellow forwards Joshua Abbott and Bailey Wootton (17 goals each) have been the standout forwards for the Phoenix this season and will hope to score big against the Wildcats.

Swindon (3 wins/13 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) looked to be having a revival around Christmas time, picking up five points in three games between December and early January. Since then, they have lost four of five, with their only win coming against a Basingstoke side on a heavy losing streak. With Lee Valley only four points behind in last place, Swindon will need to continue to win matches to ensure they avoid the wooden spoon. And bringing nine skaters to away games, as they did in last weekend’s 9-1 drubbing at the hands of Bristol, won’t help their cause – they will hope to bring a bigger roster to Surrey for this game.

Even if the Wildcats do bring a full roster to Guildford, expect a win in this one for the impressive Phoenix, who should have too much scoring power for Swindon to contend with.

Don’s Prediction: Guildford 6-4 Swindon
Laurence’s Prediction: Guildford 7-3 Swindon

Haringey Huskies vs Solent Devils

For twenty-four hours last weekend, Solent took over first place in the Wilkinson Division from Oxford City, before slipping back to second the next day. This weekend they have another chance to move up, as they travel to play Haringey.

The Huskies (8 wins/11 regulation losses, 16 points) are currently clinging onto the final playoff spot, right ahead of Bristol and Cardiff, and are mired in a five-game losing streak, in which they have been outscored 42-12. They now face a mammoth task of taking down Solent, who have only lost twice this season. Haringey will play Solent away a month later, and will also have a game against former South 1 side Chelmsford, so there remaining schedule is not all that easy.

Solent (17 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 35 points) stretched their winning run to 13 games last week, with an 8-2 away win over Cardiff. Mitchell Murray, Mark Pitts and Andrew Campbell all scored braces, with Pitts adding three assists. Solent jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first half hour, and cruised the rest of the way to briefly put themselves top of the table, one point ahead of Oxford. But the Stars then won on Sunday to go back ahead.

With Oxford playing Lee Valley this weekend, it’s unlikely that Solent will finish the weekend in first place, but they should certainly pick up a win against Haringey to stay just one point back.

Don’s Prediction: Haringey 3-8 Solent
Laurence’s Prediction: Haringey 3-10 Solent

Sunday

Bristol Pitbulls vs Bracknell Hornets

Bracknell aim to close the gap at the top of the table as they hit the road to take on Bristol, who are just a solitary point out of the playoffs.

Bristol (7 wins/9 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 15 points) sit ninth in the table, a point back of both Slough and Haringey, and the good news for the Pitbulls is that they have three games in hand on both of those sides. Bristol have also pulled together back-to-back wins for the first time since December, defeating Lee Valley 6-2 and then last weekend, crushing a short-benched Swindon 9-1. Adrian Smith and Logan Prince scored braces while Ryan Macfarlane had a five-point evening as the Pitbulls romped against a Wildcats team featuring just nine players and two goalies.

Bracknell (15 wins/1 regulation loss, 30 points) also are a club with games in hand on the sides above them—and in this case, there are only two clubs with more points than the Hornets. Solent are five points clear of Bracknell in second place, while Oxford still sit top of the table, one point ahead of Solent. But Bracknell have more than enough games to make up the points, but they need to keep winning, especially since they have two tough games against Solent remaining on the schedule. But they will be favourites in all other games for the rest of the season, including this one against Bristol.

Don’s Prediction: Bristol 4-8 Bracknell
Laurence’s Prediction: Bristol 3-7 Bracknell

Basingstoke Buffalo vs Lee Valley Lions

Two sides play for the second time in as many days in Hampshire, as the Buffalo welcome the Lions to town. The two sides have not yet faced each other this season.

Basingstoke will be hoping to have snapped their three month long losing streak the previous night in Kent but, if not, will see this game as another chance to do so as they welcome the team bottom of the league. Buffalo import Blair Dubyk is a former Lee Valley favourite, so it will be interesting to see how he does against his former side – expect goals as usual from the tough Canadian.

The Lions probably won’t have beaten Oxford the previous evening, but will see this game as a genuine chance to break their duck on the season. As previously mentioned, the Buffalo haven’t won a game in so long, that this could be the perfect opponent for the Lions to finally take their first win of the campaign against. As usual, in order to do so they will need captain Nick Alley to lead from the front, and will also need good goaltending from whichever of James Andrew, Brett Shepherd or Robyn Maby gets the nod.

This game is so hard to call given the losing runs that both sides are on. It should be a tight game and it may not be decided in 60 minutes – whatever happens, it should be exciting.

Don’s Prediction: Basingstoke 4-3 Lee Valley
Laurence’s Prediction: Basingstoke 5-6 Lee Valley (OT)

Chelmsford Chieftains vs Slough Jets

Chelmsford welcome Slough to Essex in a mouth-watering clash which comes four weeks after the Jets upset Chelmsford in Slough.

The Chieftains will be playing their second game of the weekend, as they will have played Cardiff away on Saturday. Chelmsford will be desperate for a four-point weekend—they have plenty of games in hand on the two sides above them, Guildford in fifth and Peterborough in fourth, but they are quite a few points short and this hasn’t been the greatest season for the Chieftains.

Slough (8 wins/12 regulation losses, 16 points) will be back in action for the first time in three weeks, but despite having remained idle they have held onto seventh place in the league, which will please them. But Haringey are level on points in eighth and Bristol have moved to within a point, so the Jets could certainly use a win on Sunday. We know they can beat Chelmsford after they defeated the Chieftains 6-4 at the mini-Hangar, but away from home ice against a Chelmsford team looking for revenge, it will be tough for Slough to do the league double.

Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 5-3 Slough
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 8-5 Slough


Fixture information

Saturday
14:45 Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Chelmsford Chieftains
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Basingstoke Buffalo
17:30 Lee Valley Lions vs Oxford City Stars
17:30 Guildford Phoenix vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
17:30 Haringey Huskies vs Solent Devils

Sunday
17:00 Bristol Pitbulls vs Bracknell Hornets
18:30 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Lee Valley Lions
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Slough Jets


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings


We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL1 games? You can find the NIHL1 South weekend preview HERE.


482days Expert Prediction Competition (after Sunday 11th February)

Don: 103pts
Laurence: 100pts

Our experts get 1 point for every correct result, and 3 points if they predict the exact score. (Although as they say: prediction is a mug’s game…)

Posted in Weekend Preview

February 16th, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

8 league games and the second leg of the cup semi final to take a look at this week.

League action
Swindon Wildcats had a weekend they would probably prefer to forget last weekend as they missed out on a chance to peg back the league leaders with losses against both Basingstoke and Bracknell. They did have a win against Invicta last night in a rare midweek game down in Kent, but I think they are fairly well cemented in 3rd place now – with a 6 point gap between themselves and the top two and another down to 4th place Raiders with just 6 games left to play.  This weekend sees them play their final league games against both Streatham and Cardiff. They have mostly had the better of both teams so far this season, although the Redhawks did pull off a big 5-1 home win back in October. Redhawks are currently looking to be their most likely opponents in the first round of the playoffs, so both teams will want to put down a marker ahead of those games if they do end up matched together.

Bracknell have had a bit of a resurgence over the last 3 weeks, taking 9 points from 6 games after a spell of over 2 months in which they had just one dead-rubber cup game win and one league point from an OT loss point to their name.  But they have a tough old weekend coming up as they visit league leaders Basingstoke on Saturday and then host league title challengers Peterborough on Sunday. While they definitely can’t win the title now, they could have a part to say in deciding where it goes if they can continue their good form and get at least one win from one of these games.  Last Saturday they will have been disappointed to have only taken a point away from Peterborough after being the better team for the majority of the game, and they will be looking to take all the points at home.

Peterborough will be well aware that they got out of jail for free in that game on Saturday when they were poor for most of the game but somehow managed to stay on track with both points with a win in the penalty shootout. The league title is still a possibility for the Phantoms, but they probably can’t afford to drop points if they want to stay in the race and will know that they need to do better. They host Milton Keynes on Saturday and will want both a good performance and the 2 points to keep the pressure on Bison.

At the bottom of the table, Saturday probably sees Cardiff’s best chance of picking up some points this season when they host Invicta.  The Dynamos have had the upper hand so far with 3 relatively comfortable wins, but they have also been struggling this season and while they will go into this game as the favourites, Cardiff have a chance of frustrating them and then catching them on the break. If Fire can keep up the intensity they have shown in the last few games I have watched for the full 60 minutes, I could see a shock result happening.

Sunday sees another first for London, who will have their first Sunday game in their new arena. With the promise of free parking added in to sweeten the pot for fans, they will be hoping for another bumper crowd. They will also be hoping for another first – that is to take some points from a game against Bison. So far, Basingstoke are the only team that have a clean sweep of results over the Raiders who have at least one win registered against all of the others in the league.  But Bison will be well aware that they have Phantoms breathing down their neck at the top of the table and will put up one hell of a fight to stop that from happening. This could be a cracker.

Streatham and Invicta also meet on Sunday, Redhawks have taken all the points from the six games between these sides so far this season and will want to do the same again to ensure that they do not leave room to be overtaken in 6th place. The Dynamos will not go down easy and most of the games between these sides have been relatively close – so there is no margin for error for the Redhawks here.

National Cup action
Tuesday sees the second leg of the National Cup semi final between Swindon and Telford. On Wednesday, a final minute equaliser by Sam Bullas to make the first leg a 3-3 draw means that it is simply winner takes all in this game.  The winner will go on to play Sheffield in the final.


Fixture information​
Saturday
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
18:30 Cardiff Fire vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:15 London Raiders vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:00 Cardiff Fire vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)

Tuesday
19:45 Telford Tigers vs Swindon Wildcats (National Cup SF)


482days will have hopefully have some live twitter updates (TBC exactly where) over the weekend. If you want to come and say ‘hi’ or would like a pin badge, just look for the bright yellow laptop! We’ll also have updates on scores and scorers from all the games across the weekend as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL2 games? You can find the NIHL2 South preview HERE where our correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDemott will take a look at all the action in that league this weekend.


Tables for active competitions this weekend
NIHL1 Britton League

Posted in Weekend Preview

February 9th, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

League leaders Oxford had last weekend off, with chasers Solent and Bracknell both taking wins to close the gap at the top. This weekend, Oxford and Solent are both in action against the same opposition (Cardiff) which will be an interesting measure of how the two sides stack up.

Solent’s trip to Wales is on Saturday, with faceoff at 14:45. If the Devils win, they will lead the league (for 24 hours at least). There are two more games on Sunday too, with Bristol hosting Swindon on Oxpens Road in a game with a real West Country flavour,  and Peterborough looking to continue their recent resurgence as they travel to Basingstoke.

The only game on Sunday is Oxford’s home game against Cardiff, as they look to extend their lead at the top of the pile or, if Solent won the previous night, the City Stars will look to regain that top spot.

Saturday

Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Solent Devils

Solent have the chance to top NIHL South 2 on Saturday – the Devils are just a point behind leaders Oxford and travel to South Wales to take on the Cardiff Fire.

Cardiff (7 wins/8 regulation losses, 14 points) are having a strong season to date, winning seven of their 15 games thus far and finding themselves just two points outside the playoff places. They won’t make it easy for Solent, and the Devils will have to work hard to take the win and top spot in the league. Cardiff beat Haringey 3-2 in a tight game last Sunday, with Elliott Murdoch, Rhys Harding and import Robert Sedlak taking a goal each. The Fire would love a similar result here, although it promises to be a much tougher game.

Solent (16 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 33 points) are on imperious form at the moment, having won their last 12 games in a row and only having lost once in regulation this season. They got even better last weekend with the return of Mitchell Murray from a long ban. Playing his first game since the 23rd of October 2016, Murray (the brother of player-coach Alex) scored a hat-trick as the Devils beat Guildford 7-2 on Saturday. With both Murray brothers as well as Drew Campbell, Richard Facey and Mark Pitts, who scored two goals and added three assists against Guildford, the Devils have a scary array of offensive talent and will be hard to stop here.

While Cardiff are on good form and are hard to beat at home, Solent should be too strong for them in this encounter. Expect the Gosport-based side to be topping the table come Saturday evening.

Don’s Prediction: Cardiff 3-8 Solent
Laurence’s Prediction: Cardiff 3-6 Solent

Bristol Pitbulls vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Bristol continue their push for the playoffs this weekend as they host Swindon Wildcats in Oxford. The Wildcats still sit second from last, but have been playing better in recent weeks.

Bristol (6 wins/9 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 13 points) have been securing points regularly ever since mid-November, having won five of their last 10 games. Most recently they’ve taken two of their last three, defeating Cardiff and Lee Valley while losing to Solent. Against Lee Valley on Saturday, captain Olly Shone led the way for the Pitbulls, scoring a hat-trick in a 6-2 win. Shone now has 22 goals in 16 games for Bristol. Shone and the Pitbulls will need to be in good form against on Saturday, though, with Swindon coming to town.

Swindon (3 wins/12 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) ended their three-game losing streak—with all losses coming against the former South 1 clubs—a fortnight ago with a 6-4 win over Basingstoke. The Wildcats were narrowly outshot by the Buffalo, but Christopher Leykam’s hat-trick was enough to see Swindon pick up two more points.

Bristol and Swindon haven’t faced each other yet this season, and with both clubs playing well, it’s a hard game to predict. A win could put Bristol very near the playoff places, while Swindon will need as many points as possible if they’re going to make a late push for eighth place.

Don’s Prediction: Bristol 5-4 Swindon (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Bristol 7-4 Swindon

Basingstoke Buffalo vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms

Peterborough will look to continue their recent resurgence as they travel to Basingstoke to play a Buffalo team trying to snap an eight-game losing skid.

The Phantoms (13 wins/6 regulation losses, 26 points) have extended their winning streak to three games after last week’s narrow victory over Guildford—a win that gave Peterborough a three-point cushion over the Phoenix for fourth place in the Wilkinson division. In many respects, Guildford were in charge of the game, outshooting Peterborough 34-20 and compiling less penalty minutes. But in the stat that matters—goals scored—the Phantoms were able to take a 2-1 advantage. Craig Wallis and Conor Pollard each scored to give Peterborough a 2-0 lead, and although Guildford pulled one back in the 34th minute, that was as close as they could come.

Basingstoke (4 wins/11 regulation loss/2 OT losses, 10 points) have somehow remained in touch with the playoff places, sitting six points behind Haringey, but if they’re going to move up out of 12th place, they’ll need to start winning games again—something they haven’t done since 11 November. They’ve only picked up two points in that time, from a pair of overtime losses. Incidentally, one of those OT defeats was away to Peterborough in early December, with the Phantoms winning 8-7. But in order to play well against Peterborough again, the Buffalo will need to put behind them last week’s 12-2 humiliation at the hands of Chelmsford.

Going solely off their last meeting, this game could be very close. But both club’s league positions and recent form would seem to indicate that the Phantoms stand an excellent chance of picking up two points on Saturday.

Don’s Prediction: Basingstoke 3-6 Peterborough
Laurence’s Prediction: Basingstoke 1-8 Peterborough

Sunday

Oxford City Stars vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire

Cardiff are in the unique position of playing both of the top two in the league this weekend. A day after welcoming Solent to Wales, they make the shorter trip to Oxford to take on the City Stars.

Oxford (17 wins/2 regulation losses, 34 points) have in many respects dominated the league this season, taking 17 wins in 19 games and scoring a barely believable 178 goals – an average of 9.4 goals per game! But they only lie one point ahead of Solent in the table after two costly defeats to Bracknell in September and January, and they could see Solent leapfrog them on Saturday to sit atop the table. Either way, this is a must-win game for the City Stars at home, as they will not want any more slip-ups with two crunch games against Solent still to come this season. Oxford’s last outing as a crushing 11-4 win over Chelmsford two weekend ago, with Michael Whillock and Josh Florey both scoring hat-tricks and Kamil Kinkor picking up six points on the night.

Cardiff will travel to Oxford hoping to make the game more than a formality, but it will be a tough ask – especially after having played against another strong opponent the night before. Cardiff have played two games against former NIHL1 sides so far this season, losing them both, and you would have to be brave to bet on the Fire taking something from this game – Oxford having scored 104 goals in their ten home games so far this season.

Cardiff will battle hard as always in this one, but the difference in quality and experience is likely to be too difficult to overcome. Expect Oxford to take a big win here and end the weekend top of the league table.

Don’s Prediction: Oxford 12-4 Cardiff
Laurence’s Prediction: Oxford 10-2 Cardiff


Fixture information

Saturday
14:45 Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Solent Devils
17:00 Bristol Pitbulls vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
18:30 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms

Sunday
18:15 Oxford City Stars vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings


We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL1 games? You can find the NIHL1 South weekend preview HERE.


482days Expert Prediction Competition (after Sunday 4th February)

Don: 99pts
Laurence: 96pts

Our experts get 1 point for every correct result, and 3 points if they predict the exact score. (Although as they say: prediction is a mug’s game…)

Posted in Weekend Preview

February 9th, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

We’ve a busy weekend coming up with 8 league games over the weekend as well one on Thursday to take a look at as well as a National Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

League action
Everyone is in action this weekend and most teams have a double-header (just Raiders and Thunder playing a single game) as we head into the sharp end of the season.

Last weekend, Bison’s win against Peterborough saw them reclaim the top spot, level on points and with a game in hand. They have a tough game on Saturday though as they travel to Swindon who have certainly not given up on the league title themselves. Swindon dropped a point on Wednesday when they twice lost a 2-goal lead over the Raiders before finally losing in the first ever penalty shoot-out in the new Romford rink. But the Wildcats are now only 4 points behind the top two after an excellent start to 2018 and seem to have hit form at the right time to make a big run up the table.  A win here for them will definitely make things very interesting at the top! But Bison are in pretty hot form themselves at the moment and will be in bullish form, determined to stay at the top now that they have got themselves back up there.

The other two ex-EPL teams also play each other on Saturday as Peterborough host Bracknell. The Bees finally got themselves a 4-point weekend, their first in 3 months and will be hoping that it’s the start of a turn-around for their season. They are locked into a battle for that 4th place spot with their most likely first-round playoff opponents (London Raiders) and would love to start making a dent on the 3 point difference. Phantoms though will also know that the 2 points is a must if they want to keep up the pressure on the Bison and reclaim the top of the table spot.

Speaking of the Raiders, they travel to Kent on Saturday for a game against Invicta. They will be feeling confident after that great comeback win against Swindon midweek which cemented their 4th place spot. The Raiders have had the better of the Dynamos so far this season, with 6 regulation wins and one OT win against them so far, but Mos have the ability to pull out a big performance and will want to put on a good show for their home fans.

Finally on Saturday, Streatham travel to Cardiff who’s injury worries continue. Captain Callum Buglass left the ice in the first period on Saturday and has yet to return to the ice. He’s a big loss to a side who are already struggling to put out a full bench each week with so many of their senior players sidelined at the moment. Of course, it does mean that some of their promising NIHL2 players are getting a lot of ice time in the 2nd tier and a few of them have already seriously impressed (especially teenage brothers Ben and Sam Smith who have really stepped up this season). Doubtless we’ll see quite a few players doing an NIHL1 and 2 double at Ice Arena Wales with both teams having home games.

Sunday sees Cardiff then make the journey to Basingstoke in what will be a really tough game for them. Despite the heart that team has, I can’t see them taking anything away from a game against the league leaders who are in excellent form at the moment.

We also have Swindon travelling to the Hive on Sunday. These two teams have actually only met once in the league so far this season. Swindon took the extra point in that game when Bebris scored an OT winner, but the from all accounts it was a close game and it’s one that Bees will really want to get something out of in order to keep the pressure on London. Of course, Swindon are also in need of those points in their pursuit of the top two!

Milton Keynes return to the fray after a weekend break last week when they host Invicta. Thunder currently hold a comfortable looking 5 point lead against the Dynamos in the 7th/8th place battle, but the Mos have 2 games in hand and a win in this game will mean that 7th will suddenly become a realistic target for them. Both teams have struggled for points in the last few months and have only wins against Cardiff to their name since mid-November, although both have picked up a few extra points in OT losses as well. The sides have met twice so far this season and have a win each by a single goal (MK won in regulation and Invicta in OT), so expect this to be another close game.

Our final weekend game sees Peterborough travel to South London to take on Streatham. They have met twice so far this season with the Phantoms having the upper hand in both games. The Redhawks are always capable of pulling out a surprise though and when it clicks with them, it really clicks. Trouble is that it isn’t happening consistently enough for them so far this season – but they are never an easy team to play against.

We also have a mid-week league fixture to look at as Swindon travel to Invicta on Thursday. It’s a chance for the Wildcats to finally turn their game in hand over Phantoms into points and a win here could see them really in the mix at the top again. Of course, Dynamos have a habit of really playing up to the top teams and have had some of their best performances this season against the ex-EPL teams. Swindon will obviously be favourites going into this one – but you just never know, especially since it will be the Wildcats’ 4th game in 6 days!

National Cup action
The second of the cup semi-finals also gets into action on Wednesday and Swindon are bidding to reach their second cup final of the season as they host Telford. These two sides met 4 times in the group stage of the competition and the Wildcats took all 8 points with 4 regulation wins. But they were mostly close low-scoring games and with a place in the national cup final against Sheffield up for grabs now, the stakes are higher and Tigers will be looking for some payback. The second leg of this series will conclude the following week.

 


Fixture information​

Saturday
18:00 Invicta Dynamos vs London Raiders (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:30 Cardiff Fire vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
18:30 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)

Wednesday
19:30 Swindon Wildcats vs Telford Tigers (National Cup SF)

Thursday
19:45 Invicta Dynamos vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)


482days will have live twitter updates from Cardiff on Saturday and Milton Keynes on Sunday. If you want to come and say ‘hi’ or would like a pin badge, just look for the bright yellow laptop! We’ll also have updates on scores and scorers from all the games across the weekend as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL2 games? You can find the NIHL2 South preview HERE where our correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDemott will take a look at all the action in that league this weekend.


Tables for active competitions this weekend
NIHL1 Britton League

Posted in Weekend Preview

February 2nd, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

The action in NIHL South 2 is really starting to heat up – especially at the sharp end where the title looks to be a three-way fight between Oxford, Solent and Bracknell. And with league leaders Oxford not playing this weekend, it presents a golden opportunity for the Devils and Hornets to close the gap.

Solent play on Saturday, hosting this season’s surprise package Guildford, who are fifth in the league having only joined in the summer. Also playing on Saturday are Bracknell, who travel to Kent to take on the Invicta Mustangs, while Bristol welcome the Lee Valley Lions.

Guildford are in action again on Sunday, this time hosting Peterborough in a battle over fourth place in the league. Chelmsford look to leave last weekend’s big 11-4 defeat to Oxford behind as they play host to Basingstoke, while Haringey make the long trip to Wales to face the Cardiff Fire.

Saturday

Bristol Pitbulls vs Lee Valley Lions

Saturday’s game in Oxford promises to be an interesting one, as 11th place Bristol Pitbulls welcome winless Lee Valley to their temporary home on Oxpens Road.

Bristol (5 wins/9 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 11 points) have struggled for consistency this season, and find themselves three points outside the playoff places. The Pitbulls have kept the exact same roster as last season, only making the addition of Jack Clark from Swindon last week, but that hasn’t translated to results thus far as sides like Invicta, Cardiff, Haringey and Slough – who Bristol were perhaps expected to be ahead of – have all managed to jump ahead of them in the table. The Pitbulls went down 6-3 in Gosport last Sunday to the Solent Devils, but can take heart from the fact that the scoreline was rather close – a lot of other sides have lost by a lot more goals than that in Gosport this season.

Lee Valley (13 regulation losses/3 OT losses, 3 points) are still searching for their first win of the season, but their last game two weeks ago was very promising. They took the Slough Jets, who were fresh off a confidence-boosting win over Chelmsford the previous night, to overtime before going down 3-2. Nonetheless the East London side gained a point from the OT loss – their third such point of the season – while young defenceman Daniel Tamasauskas scored his first senior goal for the Lions. They also welcomed back forward Tom Hurley after almost two months out injured, and were able to ice their biggest bench of the season. If the Lions can keep a healthy roster together for the rest of the season, a win should definitely be on the cards in the not too distant future.

But it is questionable whether that win will come in this particular game. The Lions went down 11-1 to the same opposition at home back in November and, while the scoreline likely won’t be as heavy this time around, the Pitbulls are still favourites to take the win.

Don’s Prediction: Bristol 6-4 Lee Valley
Laurence’s Prediction: Bristol 5-2 Lee Valley

Invicta Mustangs vs Bracknell Hornets

After nearly three weeks off, Bracknell are back in action on Saturday, and they will travel to Kent to play Invicta, one of a group to teams trying hard to move into the playoff places.

Invicta (5 wins/13 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 11 points) have had a mediocre season, scattering five wins quite evenly throughout the season, although they have done slightly better in the last two months. Seventh-placed Slough are the highest ranked team they have defeated, but the Mustangs still find themselves in decent position with seven games remaining, as they are just three points back of Haringey, who occupy the final playoff spot. The bad news for Invicta? The four sides below them and the two clubs above them all have multiple games in hand. What’s worse for the Mustangs is that of their final seven games, two are against Bracknell, one is against Oxford City and another is against Chelmsford.

Bracknell (14 wins/1 regulation loss, 28 points) are looking at their future with a much cheerier disposition than this weekend’s opponents are. The Hornets are three points behind Solent with two games in hand, and six points back of league-leader Oxford City with a mouth-watering four games securely in their pocket. The key for Bracknell will be to make those extra games turn into points. They have a five-game winning streak and they’ll want to keep that run going as they start a three-game road trip against Invicta, Bristol and Swindon. Because after that, they host Solent on 3 March—and then play them away just three weeks later.

The Hornets are in good shape to challenge for at least second, if not first place in the league. But they can’t afford to be upset by any of the lower clubs, like Invicta.

Don’s Prediction: Invicta 2-9 Bracknell
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 3-9 Bracknell

Solent Devils vs Guildford Phoenix

Solent and Guildford clash in a battle between two sides who have cemented their places near the top of the table—but both will be eager to climb even higher as the season wears on.

Solent (15 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 31 points), the home side in this fixture, are rapidly gaining on league leaders Oxford City, sitting just three points behind the Stars with two games in hand. Solent’s win streak has hit 11 games and they’re looking unstoppable, but their schedule the rest of the way isn’t going to be easy and leads up to a pair of clashes against Oxford to finish the season. In order to keep pace, a win on Saturday is a must.

Guildford (11 wins/5 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 23 points) have been brilliantly successful in their first season, currently sitting fifth in the table, one point back of Peterborough in fourth. Last weekend the Phoenix put a stop to Slough’s run of good form with a dominant 9-2 victory, and that followed up wins over Lee Valley and Cardiff which forms their three-game winning streak. But one thing has hampered Guildford this season, which is their inability to defeat the former South 1 sides. In five attempts so far this season, they’ve lost all five times, although they have come very close in several games. They’ve never faced Solent, and they’ll need to turn around their form against the big clubs in order to maintain the fight for fourth—or higher.

Solent will be favourites in this game, but don’t count out the Phoenix. One thing Guildford must make sure is that they concentrate on the task at hand, and don’t get overwhelmed by the prospect of having to host Peterborough just 24 hours later…

Don’s Prediction: Solent 6-3 Guildford
Laurence’s Prediction: Solent 6-4 Guildford

Sunday

Guildford Phoenix vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms

Regardless of the result between Guildford and Solent, Sunday’s matchup between the Phoenix and Peterborough will be a 4th-versus-5th clash—it’s just a question of who will be in which place by the time the puck drops.

Guildford and Peterborough (12 wins/6 regulation losses, 24 points) have yet to meet this season, and rather like the Phoenix, the Phantoms have had bad times against the ex-South 1 clubs, winning just once in seven attempts. Peterborough have also been mired in a slump for some time. After winning their first seven games, they lost five of their next nine. But things have turned around in the last few weeks. The Phantoms finally put together a winning streak again, knocking off Invicta 8-1 on the 20th and then last Sunday, they cruised to a 10-2 win over Haringey. And Peterborough will be pleased with Conor Pollard’s performances—he notched 5+5 across those two games, which takes him to 35 points overall in 17 games.

A further note on Guildford–we should see their new signing at some point over the weekend. The Phoenix brought in forward Jared Lane with their final signing of the season. Lane, a former junior for Guildford who put up 127 points in five years, played for the Guildford Flames and then most recently the Bracknell Bees of South 1. The 19-year-old should add a further spark to the offence as Guildford push towards the higher placings in the league.

Sunday’s game should be a good one. A consistent Guildford club against a Peterborough side that is finding its footing again. Guildford’s fatigue after Saturday’s huge game against Solent could go a long way in deciding this one.

Don’s Prediction: Guildford 7-9 Peterborough
Laurence’s Prediction: Guildford 4-5 Peterborough (OT)

Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Haringey Huskies

A direct duel between two playoff aspirants takes place in South Wales on Sunday afternoon, as eighth place Haringey make the trip to take on ninth place Cardiff. Four points separate the sides, but the Fire have four games in hand, so if they win this game they will be in pole position to jump into eighth place in the coming weeks.

Cardiff (6 wins/8 regulation losses, 12 points) have lost their last three games after starting the season with a 6-5 record; but two of those losses were to top-five teams in Guildford and Solent. The Fire may be a mostly young side, but they are not short of talent and also have some strong veterans on the team. And they will be pushing hard to secure a playoff berth in the tightly-packed midfield. Rhys Harding has been their standout forward so far this season with 15 goals in just 12 matches, while Slovak veteran Robert Sedlak is always dangerous and has 11 goals of his own in 11 games.

The Huskies (8 wins/10 regulation losses, 16 points) are also on a negative run, having lost their last four successive games, having conceding 10+ goals in each of the last three. That being said, those three games were against top sides Bracknell, Oxford and Peterborough. The game in Cardiff sees the North London side taking on a team more at their level, and it should be an interesting encounter. Huskies captain Ben Osborne was on form in January as he netted five goals in five games, while Sam Roberts has returned to Haringey after two and a half seasons in NIHL1 with the Raiders, scoring 1+2 in his two games to date.

This should be an interesting encounter and it could be decided by fine margins. The Fire are generally strong at home though, and they may just have the edge in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Cardiff 4-3 Haringey
Laurence’s Prediction: Cardiff 6-3 Haringey

Chelmsford Chieftains vs Basingstoke Buffalo

After three losses in their last four games, the Chieftains look to regain some confidence as they welcome 12th place side Basingstoke to the Riverside.

Chelmsford (9 wins/5 regulation losses, 18 points) were expected by many to challenge for the NIHL South 2 title this season, after being the dominant side in South 1 for the last five years. But their title challenge looks well and truly derailed after their 11-4 thrashing at the hands of leaders Oxford last weekend, which was already Chelmsford’s fifth loss in 14 games played. By way of comparison, the other three sides that dropped down from NIHL1 only have five losses in total between them. Chelmsford now look to be in a three way fight for fourth place with Guildford and Peterborough, so will need to win games against lower level opponents in order to keep up that fight.

The Buffalo (4 wins/9 regulation losses/2 OT losses, 10 points) have lost their last seven straight, with their last win coming in Swindon on the 11th of November. Last weekend the Buffalo welcomed the same opposition to Basingstoke, with the Wildcats this time skating off with a 6-4 victory. Buffalo import Blair Dubyk was once again the standout player in the loss, netting twice and registering two assists as he was directly involved in all four of Basingstoke’s goals. The Hampshire side need to get scoring from more players if they are to successfully challenge for a playoff berth, which they are currently six points away from.

Despite Chelmsford’s recent poor form, the likes of import Michal Oravec and the Bartlett twins Grant and Cameron should be too much for Basingstoke in this game. Expect a Chelmsford win, although given their surprising defeats to both Bristol and Slough this season, you never quite know how this one will pan out…

Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 5-3 Basingstoke
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 9-2 Basingstoke


Fixture information

Saturday
17:00 Solent Devils vs Guildford Phoenix
17:00 Bristol Pitbulls vs Lee Valley Lions
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Bracknell Hornets

Sunday
14:45 Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Haringey Huskies
17:30 Guildford Phoenix vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Basingstoke Buffalo


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings


We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL1 games? You can find the NIHL1 South weekend preview HERE.


482days Expert Prediction Competition (after Sunday 28th January)

Don: 93pts
Laurence: 90pts

Our experts get 1 point for every correct result, and 3 points if they predict the exact score. (Although as they say: prediction is a mug’s game…)

Posted in Weekend Preview

February 2nd, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

This weekend it’s all about the league with 7 fixtures across Saturday and Sunday. We also have a midweek league game and an Autumn Cup semi-final to talk about next Wednesday.

League action
Saturday sees the much anticipated return to Romford for the Raiders. After 5 years sharing Lee Valley with the NIHL2 Lions, they finally have a place to call their own again. Photos of the new Romford rink look pretty amazing and I shall certainly be looking forward to attending what looks like a sell-out game against Cardiff. Raiders have been enjoying great league form and will want to get used to being a top-half team, a win here will mean they will be able to enjoy that feeling for at least another week. Cardiff of course are still searching for that first point in the league but with so many of their team either playing injured or completely out of action at the moment, it is hard to see where that will come from.

Sunday sees the Raiders (I’ve yet to hear for definite if the name is reverting to Romford this season) travel to Streatham for the final regular season meeting between the teams. It’s been an odd series between these two teams with the Redhawks winning all four cup games while Raiders have won all three of the league games between the two sides so far. Not one of the previous seven games has been a blow-out though with all going to at most a 2-goal margin, so we can certainly expect another close game between these two old rivals.

Prior to that game, Streatham will be travelling to Swindon on Saturday.  The sides have met twice so far in South London and have a win each to show for it, although Redhawks currently have the advantage in the series on goal difference. The Wildcats are in terrific form at the moment, with just one loss from 11 games in January and also secured themselves an Autumn Cup final spot after a close series against Peterborough. Streatham had a good win against Bracknell last weekend but will also need to conserve a little energy for the game against London On Sunday while Swindon have just the one game this weekend.

The game of the weekend is probably the top of the table match up between Peterborough and Basingstoke on Saturday. The Phantoms have extended their lead at the top of the table to 4 points now but Bison have 2 games in hand and this is the proverbial 4 pointer. A regulation win for Bison here and a second win on Sunday would see them retake the top spot in the table and still have one game in hand over the Phantoms. But if Phantoms can take the win, they’ll really be in the driving seat to take the league title.

Sunday’s game for the Bison against Invicta may not be an easy win for them though. Although the Dynamos have definitely had their toughest season since they dropped out of the EPL 15 years ago, their team are far from being a pushover. They are a team who seem to relish the big games and have seemed to play better against tougher opposition. Having said that, despite raising their game against the ex-EPL teams, they have still struggled to turn that good play into tangible points.

Before that game, Invicta will also have travelled to the Hive to play Bracknell on Saturday. The two sides have met thrice so far this season and have 4 points a piece with the Bees having won in overtime twice and Dynamos having one regulation win. Bees started the league well, but their form has had a dramatic drop since the start of November and they have just one win (in OT vs MK) and an OT loss for 3 points from 10 league games in the last 3 months (compared to 8 regulation wins, 2 OT wins and a single loss in their first 11 games).  I think both teams will be going into this game with a feeling that they can take the points and kick start the final third of their season.

The final game at the weekend sees Bracknell travel to Cardiff. If Bees can get the win on the Saturday then they will be looking to get their first 4-point weekend since the start of November (when they also played Invicta and Cardiff!).

We also have a midweek league game to enjoy as Swindon become the second team to visit the new Romford facility.  Despite their good form against the teams below them in the league, Raiders have only one win in 9 games against the top three. If they want to be a genuine challenger during the playoffs they will need to start winning games like this one. The two teams have met 4 times so far this season and the best the Raiders have managed is a regulation loss by one goal. They will be especially unhappy with the manner in which they capitulated in the Cup QF games last month when they went down 8-0 and 6-2 to the Wildcats. Swindon will feel that they have the measure of the Raiders but back in their own barn with what will hopefully be a big home crowd and this game could have a different feel to it.

Autumn Cup action
The increasingly inappropriately-named ‘Autumn’ cup continues and we’ll finally know who is to play Swindon in the final after this week, when Basingstoke travel to Hull for the second leg of their semi-final. Bison will take a slim one-goal lead into the game after defeating the Pirates 4-3 last Friday.  If both teams are at full strength again for this game (always a bit dicey for mid-week games, especially when a 460 mile round trip is involved) this should be another close game. A place in the final and a chance at some silverware should help get the players there though!


Fixture information​

Saturday
17:45 London Raiders vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:00 Cardiff Fire vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs London Raiders (NIHL1)

Wednesday
19:30 Hull Pirates vs Basingstoke Bison (Autumn Cup SF)
19:45 London Raiders vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)


482days will have live twitter updates from the brand spanking new Romford rink on Saturday and Streatham on Sunday. If you want to come and say ‘hi’ or would like a pin badge, just look for the bright yellow laptop! We’ll also have updates on scores and scorers from all the games across the weekend as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL2 games? You can find the NIHL2 South preview HERE where our correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDemott will take a look at all the action in that league this weekend.


Tables for active competitions this weekend
NIHL1 Britton League

Posted in Weekend Preview

January 26th, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

We’ve got 8 games to look at this weekend, an Autumn Cup semi-final this evening and then 7 league games across the weekend.

League action
London Raiders play their final game at Lee Valley Ice Rink on Saturday before transferring to their shiny new home in Romford. They host Basingstoke and will be looking to continue their recent run of good form that saw them take 4 points last weekend and rise to 4th in the table by a point and with a game in hand over 5th place Bracknell. It’s the third meeting between the teams this season, with Bison having taken 2 very comfortable wins on their own home ice (7-1 and 6-0). So it seems that so far, Basingstoke very much have their measure. Having said that, it was more than 2 months ago and London seem to have acclimatised well recently to the standard of hockey it now takes to succeed in this league.

Basingstoke are still very much in the hunt for a league title, although they fell 2 points behind Peterborough on Sunday with a loss to Swindon, despite heavily outshooting the Wildcats. They do still have a game in hand on the Phantoms, but ask any fan and they’d rather have the points in the bag!  It’s the Bison’s only game this weekend, and they will want to make sure of the 2 points if they want to keep the pressure on Peterborough.

The league leaders Peterborough have a double header against Cardiff and assuming they win both games, which in all fairness to Cardiff is probably quite likely, this should see them extend their lead to at least 4 points. For Phantoms it’s now league or bust as they are out of both cup competitions and this is their only chance for regular-season silverware (although there are still potentially 2 playoff trophies still up for grabs of course). Peterborough still have 2 more league games against their top challenger Basingstoke to come and will want to build as much scoreboard pressure as possible before then.

For Cardiff, this is a tough weekend. I have honestly never known a team with as much bad luck with injuries as the Fire have had this season. It was always going to be a big ask for them to step up from the 4th tier to the 2nd, but when you add in the loss for the entire season of 4 of their bigger signings and that about half of the rest of the team are also playing injured – you have to feel for them. Had they been able to play the team they signed consistently through the season, I have no doubt they would have picked up some points – and maybe even been able to mount a challenge for a playoff spot.

We have another home-home double header as well as Swindon and Milton Keynes meet in the ‘battle of the roundabout towns’ (thanks David Strover for that little tag line!). The two sides first met early in the season in the first game in the league that went to OT and also the first time that any of the classic NIHL1 sides took any points from games against the ex-EPL big 4. Of course, Swindon did come back with a 5-0 victory earlier this month and have been putting together a strong run of form themselves: beating Peterborough in the Autumn Cup semi-final and taking apart London in the cup quarter-finals. In the league they are narrowing the gap, but still trail Bison by 5 points and Phantoms by 7 points and will know that any lost points now could see them out of the race altogether.

MK have had a tough run recently, with the exception of the games against Cardiff, they haven’t had a win since November. But they are the masters at getting themselves at least a point in games by getting to OT and that’s been helping to keep them in 6th place. Just last weekend they pushed Bees all the way, they just need now to start turning those one-point games into two points and getting a few more wins in OT.

On Sunday, Invicta host London. Of course, news came out this week that the Mos had released Fowler due to his failure to attend training and commitment to the team. It was a big call to make by the club and coach Kevin Parrish, but sometimes having a disruptive element in the team is simply not worth it – regardless of how talented he is as a player. With some fans worrying that this signalled the club gearing down to life in NIHL2, the single tweet of ‘NIHL2 is not an option’ from Parrish showed that the fighting spirit is still there in Kent. It’s been a tough season for the Dynamos – a club who are used to challenging for the league title and whose fans are certainly not used to seeing them lose so often. But it’s good to see that they are still in bullish mood and wanting to push themselves at this level.  The game against London will be another tough one with the Raiders in strong form at the moment; but with no Invicta game on Saturday while London undoubtedly have a challenging fixture to play, if the Mos can keep it tight in the first two periods they could manage a surprise here.

Our final league game of the weekend sees Streatham and Bracknell play at the hive. Bracknell finally got their first league win since early November on Sunday in an OT win against MK. That loss of league form has seen them drop from the heights of second in the league to scrapping to get the top half in fifth.  Streatham in comparison, struggled in the league to start with but have since started picked up points with more regularity as they became more accustomed to the pace of the league.  This is their final meeting in the league this season with all games being regulation home wins so far.  Bracknell will be hoping to continue that trend, while Streatham will be looking to become the first classic NIHL1 team to win a series against one of the ex-EPL sides (which a point would be enough to do).

Autumn Cup Action
Tonight sees the first leg of the Autumn Cup semi-final between Basingstoke and Hull. The winners will go on to meet Swindon in the final.  Both teams currently sit in second place in their respective leagues and while the chance of silverware and a cup final is never to be sneered at, will still have one eye on their upcoming league games. The teams haven’t met yet this season and with the teams so changed from last season, previous form probably isn’t worth a lot either so this could be a very interesting series.  The second leg will be in two weeks, so unless this game is a blowout we’ll have to wait awhile to discover who our second finalist will be.


Fixture information​

Friday
19:45 Basingstoke Bison vs Hull Pirates (Autumn Cup SF)

Saturday
17:30 London Raiders vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs London Raiders (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
18:00 Cardiff Fire vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
18:30 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)


There will be only very minimal twitter from 482days this weekend as we’re going away. We’ll make sure we get the final scores and league tables out on Sunday evening but won’t be attending any games or doing our usual #gamedaylive roundup either. Sorry. We’re back to it next weekend!

Looking for info on the NIHL2 games? You can find the NIHL2 South preview HERE where our correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDemott will take a look at all the action in that league this weekend.


Tables for active competitions this weekend
NIHL1 Britton League

 

Posted in Weekend Preview

January 26th, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

Title aspirants Oxford and Solent both won last weekend to keep up their hopes of winning the NIHL South 2 crown, but another title hopeful suffered a surprise defeat as Chelmsford went down 6-4 in Slough. This weekend, Oxford face off against Chelmsford, while Solent play back-to-back home games on both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday’s opposition for Solent will be the Cardiff Fire, who make the long trip from south Wales to the south coast of England. Meanwhile Slough look to keep up their recent momentum – they have won three on the bounce – as they travel to Guildford; and Basingstoke welcome Swindon in a key battle towards the lower reaches of the table.

There are also three games on Sunday, with Chelmsford’s trip to Oxpens Road to take on the Oxford City Stars looking like the pick of the bunch. However there are two more big ties; with the Haringey Huskies looking to cling on to a playoff place as they travel to Peterborough to face the fourth placed Phantoms, and Solent hosting their second home game of the weekend against the Bristol Pitbulls.

Saturday

Solent Devils vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire

The gap at the top of South 2 is slowly closing, as third-place Solent have pulled to within five points of leaders Oxford City, with Bracknell sitting just four points behind the Stars. Solent can move ahead of Bracknell this week with a win, and they welcome in Cardiff, who have recently slumped out of the playoff places.

Solent (13 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 27 points) have a win streak that is nearing double digits, as they stretched it to nine victories in a row on Saturday with an easy 5-0 win over Basingstoke. Solent held a 2-0 lead after the first period thanks to a couple of goals from Richard Facey. Mark Pitts made it 3-0 in the second, and then Pitts and Facey added another goal each in the final period to take the 5-0 win.

Cardiff (6 wins/7 regulation losses, 12 points) head to the Isle of Wight with a two-game losing streak which they picked up last weekend. On Saturday they hosted Guildford and it was the Phoenix who had the better start, taking a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes. The Fire replied with three unanswered goals courtesy of Rhys Harding, Robert Sedlak and Carter-Jaice Lloyd; but in the third period, Guildford responded in kind, finding the back of the net three times to take a 5-3 victory.

Solent and Cardiff have yet to meet this season, but judging by recent form, Solent will be heavily favoured to emerge with the points. But we’ve seen some major upsets this season (think Bristol and Slough knocking off Chelmsford), so don’t write off the Fire just yet.

Don’s Prediction: Solent 9-4 Cardiff
Laurence’s Prediction: Solent 8-3 Cardiff

Guildford Phoenix vs Slough Jets

Guildford will have their sights set on moving up to fourth place on Saturday, but it won’t be an easy target to achieve as the welcome in the surging Slough Jets.

Guildford (10 wins/5 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 21 points) have been consistent throughout the season, remaining firmly entrenched in the top half of the table.  This week they’re in fourth place, just one point behind Peterborough, who have been mired in a dreadful slump ever since early November, but have somehow stayed in fourth. At this stage, Guildford’s move into fourth seems only a question of when. With the exception of a narrow defeat against Basingstoke on 10 October, the Phoenix have lost only to former South 1 sides—and only three of their final 10 games are against such teams. And against Slough, Guildford take the added momentum of a successful fortnight in which they crushed Lee Valley 12-1 and beat Cardiff away 5-3.

Slough (8 wins/11 regulation losses, 16 points) are no pushovers, however. The Jets have been surging up the table in recent times and sit in a shocking seventh place after a four-point weekend. In one of the season’s biggest upsets, Slough hosted Chelmsford on Saturday and raced out to a 5-1 lead, thanks to a brace from player-coach Lukas Smital and a goal apiece from Callum Farrell, Harry Harcup and Nathan Darmanin. The Chieftains furiously rallied, and pulled to within one. But Darmanin’s second of the game put the game out of reach and Slough sent Chelmsford away with a 6-4 loss. The Jets were then back in action on the following evening, visiting the winless Lee Valley Lions. Sunday’s game was even closer, as Lee Valley and Slough continued their trend of playing tight games. This one needed OT to separate them after they battled to a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation, and Slough grabbed their four points as Luke Reynolds found the back of the net just over a minute into OT.

Guildford and Slough met earlier in the season in Slough, with the Phoenix winning a close game, 7-5. Guildford have the added advantage of home ice in Saturday’s clash, but the Jets do have tremendous momentum with their three-game winning streak. Expect a great game.

Don’s Prediction: Guildford 6-7 Slough (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Guildford 4-3 Slough (OT)

Basingstoke Buffalo vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Swindon players and fans will be breathing sighs of relief this weekend as they put their three-game stretch against the ex-South 1 clubs behind them. This week’s opponent is Basingstoke, who will be aiming to end their six-game losing streak.

The Buffalo (4 wins/9 regulation losses/2 OT losses, 10 points) haven’t won since, somewhat coincidentally, they defeated Swindon 3-2 away on 11 November. But Swindon have improved since then and Basingstoke have gone into a slump that places them just third from bottom, ahead of the Wildcats and Lee Valley. They’ve come close a few times, taking Peterborough and Haringey to overtime, but overall it has been a disappointing run. Last week was especially galling as Basingstoke were shut out for the first time this season, losing 5-0 to Solent.

Swindon (2 wins/12 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 5 points) have taken points from three of their last six games, and as pointed out above, their three losses came at the hands of Oxford City, Chelmsford and Solent. And the Wildcats only lost by two goals to Solent, although Chelmsford and Oxford had little trouble knocking them off. So Swindon will feel that they are much better than their record shows, and will be eager to finally play against a weaker side again.

Basingstoke may have taken the points in their first meeting, and the Buffalo do have home ice in this one, but if Swindon haven’t lost their magic after some tough outings against the former South 1 sides, the Wildcats may be adding another two points to their tally on Saturday.

Don’s Prediction: Basingstoke 5-7 Swindon
Laurence’s Prediction: Basingstoke 6-3 Swindon

Sunday

Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Haringey Huskies

When these two sides met back in October at Alexandra Palace, the Phantoms were in the midst of a seven game winning streak, and hammered the Huskies 13-2. Now the two sides meet again three months later, with Peterborough having lost six of their last ten games.

The Phantoms (11 wins/6 regulation losses, 22 points) may have lost six of their last ten, but all six of those defeats were to sides that dropped down from NIHL1 in the summer. Against the “classic” NIHL2 sides, they have still been unbeatable. They showed that last weekend as they bounced back from defeat to Bracknell with a comfortable 8-1 victory over Invicta. The goal scoring was shared between seven different players in that one, with only Conor Pollard netting twice. The Phantoms, currently sitting fourth in the standings, will be keen to stay where they are and secure a top four finish in the league, so will need to keep winning games like these if they wish to keep the likes of Guildford and Chelmsford behind.

The Huskies (8 wins/9 regulation losses, 16 points), like the Phantoms, have endured a tough schedule recently. Two weekends ago they faced both of the top two teams in the league, losing 10-5 to Bracknell and 14-0 in Oxford. In fact they have not won any of their last six games in regulation, with their only victory in that time being a narrow 6-5 overtime win against Basingstoke, and their last regulation win coming back in November. After winning the first four games of the season and looking like strong playoff contenders, the North Londoners now find themselves in the final playoff place just four points above Cardiff, having played four games more. So it is crucial for the Huskies to start winning again soon, otherwise they could be overhauled by the Welsh side.

With both sides desperate for a win to keep their respective seasons on track, this should be an entertaining encounter. But if the Phantoms play anything like how they did earlier this season in North London in the aforementioned 13-2 win, they should have far too much quality for the Huskies to handle, and should come out as comfortable winners.

Don’s Prediction: Peterborough 7-4 Haringey
Laurence’s Prediction: Peterborough 8-4 Haringey

Oxford City Stars vs Chelmsford Chieftains

Sunday’s key clash sees league leaders Oxford looking to strengthen their position at the top of the pile as they welcome a Chelmsford side that suffered its second shock defeat of the season last Saturday in Slough.

Oxford (16 wins/2 regulation losses, 32 points) have only lost two games all season, both to Bracknell, with the most recent of those defeats coming three weekends ago. The Stars have won both their games since then, thrashing Haringey 14-0 and winning 9-2 at local rivals Swindon. With Bracknell four points behind and having three games in hand, and the Solent Devils five points behind and also having three games in hand, it is imperative that the Stars keep winning in order to pile the pressure on the chasing pack. And in Czech import Kamil Kinkor, the Stars can boast the top points scorer in the league – the former Streatham, London and Bracknell forward has already racked up 28+31=59 on the season and there are still eight games to go!

Chelmsford (9 wins/4 losses, 18 points) have played fewer games than the other former NIHL1 teams, so it is harder to rate their progress. However they are nonetheless the only ex-NIHL1 side to lose twice against “classic” NIHL2 teams; their loss against Bristol in November may have been seen as a blip at the time, but they also went down 6-4 in Slough’s temporary rink last weekend – a rink in which both Oxford and Solent found a way to win, even if it wasn’t pretty. With a side made up of some NIHL1 standouts but also a lot of former Chelmsford Warriors NIHL2 players, the Chieftains seem to lack the strength in depth that Oxford, Bracknell and Solent have. It would seem that the Chieftains’ goal for the season should now be to aim for a top four placing ahead of the likes of Peterborough and Guildford – even if the club’s reputation and the expectations of the fans would suggest higher ambitions.

Oxford will be determined to win this one and heap more pressure on Solent and Bracknell below them in the table, while the Chieftains really have to win this one in order to keep any hopes of the title alive. Oxford beat Chelmsford 4-0 earlier in the season at the Riverside, and another Oxford win is to be expected here.

Don’s Prediction: Oxford 6-4 Chelmsford
Laurence’s Prediction: Oxford 9-6 Chelmsford

Solent Devils vs Bristol Pitbulls

Solent play their second home game of the weekend as they welcome the Bristol Pitbulls to the south coast. This game was originally scheduled for the 16th of December, but will now be played this Sunday.

The Devils are on a nine game winning streak – ten if they beat Cardiff on Saturday – and are playing some irresistible hockey. They have only lost twice all season – a 2-3 OT defeat in Peterborough and a 2-5 reverse at home to Chelmsford both coming back in October – but since then they have won nine on the bounce to put themselves right into title contention. And with Richard Facey, Alex Murray and Drew Campbell sitting in the top seven of the league’s point scorer list, the Devils never lack goal scoring threat.

Bristol (5 wins/8 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 11 points) have not had the best season to date, and sit in 11th place, five points outside a playoff berth. A big 3-1 win over Chelmsford aside, the Pitbulls have struggled for consistency all season long and have never won more than two games in a row. The Pitbulls are not losing many games by big margins – indeed their goal difference of -5 is far better than a host of teams around them in the table – but they need to start winning the tight games if they want to reach the top eight and therefore the playoffs.

Bristol will have to play extremely well to get something out of this game. And if Solent’s top trio of Facey, Murray and Campbell are firing on all cylinders, it could be a long night indeed for Bristol’s back line. Expect a Devils win in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Solent 8-3 Bristol
Laurence’s Prediction: Solent 6-2 Bristol


Fixture information

Saturday
17:00 Solent Devils vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire
17:30 Guildford Phoenix vs Slough Jets
18:30 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Sunday
17:30 Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Haringey Huskies
18:15 Oxford City Stars vs Chelmsford Chieftains
18:30 Solent Devils vs Bristol Pitbulls


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings


We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL1 games? You can find the NIHL1 South weekend preview HERE.


482days Expert Prediction Competition (after Sunday 21st January)

Don: 88pts
Laurence: 85pts

Our experts get 1 point for every correct result, and 3 points if they predict the exact score. (Although as they say: prediction is a mug’s game…)

Posted in Weekend Preview

January 19th, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

It’s a busy weekend across NIHL1 South as all the teams are in actions – and everyone bar Cardiff has a double header! The action is concentrated on the league but we also have the second leg of a cup semi-final to look at as well.

No Autumn Cup action – but last night did see an exciting finish to the semi-final between Peterborough and Swindon. After 120 minutes of regulation and 5 minutes of OT, we still couldn’t separate the teams and Swindon finally won out in the penalty shoot-out. They will face either Basingstoke or Hull in the final – but they won’t know who until next month (making the ‘Autumn’ Cup name seem even more silly!).

League action
With every team in action this weekend and 7 of the teams having double-headers in the league, we could well see some shuffling of the table before the end of the weekend.

At the top, Peterborough and Swindon are locked into a fight for top spot, equal on points, equal in the points and goals between them, equal on goal difference – the table currently goes down to the 5th qualifier to separate them with Phantoms taking top spot on their higher total goals scored tally. Bison do have a game in hand though and will be trying to keep up the pressure and match results until they have a chance to play that one.

Phantoms arguably have the easier weekend, away to MK on Saturday, then hosting Invicta on Sunday. But the ex-EPL teams have learned not to take the NIHL-classic teams lightly any more with all of them having been stung at least once now. Both MK and Invicta have been struggling for form recently – but both also have a habit of stepping up against the bigger teams and playing their best hockey against them.

For Bison, a home-home double-header with 3rd placed Swindon awaits them. Swindon are at the front of the chasing pack and although currently 6 points behind, do have games in hand over both of the top 2. They can’t take 2nd place this weekend, but 4 points would see them right back in the title challenge again.

4th place Bees travel to London on Saturday for a tricky tie. The sides have met twice already this season in October and both games were tight with Bees taking both wins in regulation but only by a goal or two each time. Since then, London have been have been putting together some good form with 8 wins from 11 league games, while Bracknell haven’t won in the league since early November. London will be very unhappy with the manner of their exit from the cup when they were fairly comprehensively thrashed by Swindon in the quarter final (14-2 on aggregate) last weekend and will be looking at this to get their season back on track. A London win in regulation would see them take 4th place from Bracknell (and still hold a game in hand over the Berkshire club). Bees have had first line forward Shaun Thompson back in the line up after a long injury which is a huge bonus for them though – and if he is now fully fit and able to play a full game that could be a game changer. This should be one hell of a game.

Bees second game is a home tie against MK. The sides have also met twice so far with Bees taking all the points, but again both games were early in the season and with the classic NIHL1 teams starting to get used to the higher pace and standards now, this could also be a tough game for Bracknell.

Saturday also sees a battle at the bottom as Cardiff travel to Invicta. The Mos have been struggling a bit this season – although they do have the scalps of both Bees and Wildcats in the bag. They also have two wins already against Cardiff and will be targetting this game as a chance to get a much needed home win for their fans. Cardiff will also be looking at this game as a chance for them to finally get their season fully started though. It will depend if they have any of their injured players back though and whether they can bring enough lines to skate hard against the Mos for the full sixty minutes. If their young star netminder Jordan Lawday is on form again, they could frustrate the Mos and then hit them on the break.

Finally we have a London derby on Sunday as Streatham host London. It will already be the 7th meeting between the teams this season. Streatham dominated in the cup, winnning all four of those games, but the league action has been somewhat different with Raiders taking 2 regulation wins at home (4-2 and 3-2). Games between these two old rivals are almost always tense affairs and with no more than a 2 goal difference between them so far this season, the margin for error for these teams is slim. If either team isn’t on top form, it will cost them

National Cup action
Our sole cup QF game is the second leg of the match up between Streatham and Telford and sees the Redhawks travel North of Birmingham for a competitive fixture for the first time this century! They face an uphill battle though as Telford took the first leg 5-2. Teams have come back from bigger deficits – but it will be a tough ask against the former EPL team who strengthened again last week with the addition of Filip Supa (last seen tearing up NIHL2 South with Chelmsford before being inexplicably released).


Fixture information​
Saturday
17:30 London Raiders vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
17:30 Telford Tigers vs Streatham IHC (National Cup SF)
18:00 Invicta Dynamos vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
19:00 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:30 Peterborough Phantoms vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs London Raiders (NIHL1)


482days will have live twitter updates from Invicta on Saturday and we might take a look at Bracknell’s live stream on Sunday. If you want to come and say ‘hi’ or would like a pin badge, just look for the bright yellow laptop! We’ll also have updates on scores and scorers from all the games across the weekend as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL2 games? You can find the NIHL2 South preview HERE where our correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDemott will take a look at all the action in that league this weekend.


Tables for active competitions this weekend
NIHL1 Britton League

 

Posted in Weekend Preview

January 19th, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

Last weekend was a key weekend in the NIHL South 2 title race, with Bracknell and Solent taking two wins apiece to close in on leaders Oxford. This weekend, Oxford and Solent are each in action once, while Bracknell have the weekend off.

Saturday’s schedule consists of five games, with the aforementioned Oxford and Solent both in action. League leaders Oxford make the short journey to Swindon to take on the Wildcats, who have been hitting form recently; while Solent host Basingstoke in another derby game. Meanwhile Peterborough look to arrest their recent drop in form as they entertain Invicta, Slough play host to Chelmsford whose own title ambitions suffered a blow last weekend with defeat to Solent, and Cardiff welcome Guildford with both sides coming off victory last weekend.

There are three games on Sunday, with Chelmsford welcoming Swindon to the Riverside, Cardiff making the trip to face the Bristol Pitbulls in their temporary home of Oxford, and the Lee Valley Lions playing a home game for the first time in seven weeks as they welcome Slough to the Den.

Saturday

Solent Devils vs Basingstoke Buffalo

Saturday’s action kicks off with a Hampshire derby as the Basingstoke Buffalo, currently 11th in the league on 10 points, make the short trip to Gosport to face the high-flying Devils who sit in third.

Solent (12 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 25 points) have had a pretty successful start to life back in NIHL South 2 after five seasons in the league above; they have dropped just three of a possible 28 points this season, with their only defeats coming in regulation to Chelmsford and in OT to Peterborough – both strong sides. Against the more typical NIHL2 sides, the Devils have been unstoppable, and are currently on an eight game winning streak. However one key factor to note: the Devils have not faced either leaders Oxford or second placed Bracknell yet this season, with all four games against those two sides still to come. Solent recently strengthened with the signing of forward Evan Crockford, who has two goals in his five games to date, and defenceman Kyle Goddard, who has arrived from Saturday’s opponents Basingstoke.

The Buffalo (4 wins/8 regulation losses/2 OT losses, 10 points) currently sit just two points outside a playoff berth in the tightly-packed lower midfield, having won four games this season and lost two in OT to go along with eight regulation losses. Their last game was a thrilling clash with Haringey, in which the lead changed hands several time before the Huskies were able to skate away with a 6-5 OT victory. Basingstoke’s key player continues to be Canadian veteran Blair Dubyk, who leads the team on the ice with both his experience and his scoring prowess. He will need to have a massive game if Basingstoke are to get anything from this one, as will netminder Aaron Craft who is likely to face a lot of rubber.

When these two sides met at the start of the season, Solent skated away with a narrow 4-2 win. The Devils are now on top form and have made a few additions to the roster, so expect a more emphatic win in this encounter.

Don’s Prediction: Solent 7-4 Basingstoke
Laurence’s Prediction: Solent 7-4 Basingstoke

Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Invicta Mustangs

After winning their first seven games in a row to start the season, Peterborough have gone 3-6 in their last nine games to put them out of NIHL South 2 title contention. However they will still have hopes of securing a top four spot in the league, so this clash with playoff aspirants Invicta is a crucial one for both sides.

Peterborough (10 wins/6 regulation losses, 20 points) looked like they would be highly competitive in the new NIHL South 2 after the start they had – especially after inflicting defeat over the Solent Devils in overtime back in October. But since then, they have played six more games against former NIHL1 sides and lost all six. Their schedule appears to ease up now with several games against “classic” NIHL2 sides – but the question is whether they can regain their early season form. They kept the Bracknell Hornets to a close and respectable 5-3 scoreline last weekend, so will be hoping that they can get back to winning ways against the Mustangs. One interesting addition to the Phantoms side is netminder Ryan Bainborough, a former NIHL South 1 champion with Chelmsford, who will compete with regular starter Dan Lane for the gloves and who backed up Lane last weekend in Bracknell.

Invicta (5 wins/12 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 11 points) currently sit in 10th place, two positions and one point outside the playoffs. They’ve had an up-and-down season, with some big wins over rivals such as Bristol and Slough as well as some controversial games which have seen lengthy suspensions handed out to several of their players. However they seem to have compensated for those suspensions with two key additions to the squad; forward Richard Harris has scored three goals in his two games thus far to give Invicta more firepower up front, whilst they have also strengthened the backline with former Lee Valley Lions and Invicta Dynamos defenceman Jarvis Mewett.

Considering the recent form of both sides, Invicta will feel they have a chance in this one. However if Peterborough can return to form and play to their full potential, they should be too strong for the Mustangs in this encounter.

Don’s Prediction: Peterborough 6-2 Invicta
Laurence’s Prediction: Peterborough 6-3 Invicta

Slough Jets vs Chelmsford Chieftains

Slough Jets host Chelmsford Chieftains at the mini-Hangar on Saturday as the Jets aim to move into the playoff places and Chelmsford look to climb closer towards the top of the table.

Slough (6 wins/11 regulation losses, 12 points), like most of the teams in the lower half of the table, have struggled against the former South 1 clubs. But they have a sliver of hope against Chelmsford—the Chieftains were upset earlier in the season by Bristol, and Slough beat the Pitbulls just last week. That doesn’t mean another upset is on the cards, but psychologically it’s good for the Jets. That said, Slough didn’t have the easiest time knocking off Bristol last weekend. The Jets wanted revenge after surrendering the winning goal with three seconds left against the Pitbulls on the opening weekend, but on Saturday after the first period, it was 3-0 to Bristol. Neither team could find the back of the net in the second period, and then Slough roared to life in the third period in front of the home support. Timo Lindgren scored a hat-trick and player-coach Lukas Smital notched a brace, and Bristol were sent away with a 5-3 loss.

Chelmsford (8 wins/3 regulation losses, 16 points) will be the heavy favourites coming into this game, but they do arrive in Slough with a loss fresh in their minds. The Chieftains hosted Solent on Sunday, and would have been hoping to gain ground on the leaders, but things didn’t go according to plan. The game was close early on. Solent took the lead after seven minutes courtesy of Alex Murray and nine minutes later, Michal Oravec levelled the score for Chelmsford. The game was quiet until the clock ticked under half an hour to play, when Richard Facey put Solent ahead on the powerplay. Chelmsford equalised 35 seconds later and then Facey scored again within a minute to Solent back in the lead for good. Facey completed his hattie, and although Oravec scored twice more to earn his hat-trick for Chelmsford, it was not enough for the Chieftains as they fell, 5-3.

Last week may not have gone the way that Chelmsford had been hoping, but as said, they are still heavy favourites against Slough. The Jets will try for the upset, but it will be a tough one at the mini-Hangar.

Don’s Prediction: Slough 4-10 Chelmsford
Laurence’s Prediction: Slough 4-6 Chelmsford

Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Oxford City Stars

Swindon Wildcats put their newfound strength to the test again on Saturday as they welcome in table-topping Oxford City Stars.

Swindon (2 wins/10 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 5 points) have taken five points from their last four games, and while their most recent result was a loss to Solent, they fell by a mere two goals away to the former South 1 club. The game was perhaps even closer than the final scoreline indicates. The Wildcats were level with Solent into the final five minutes of the game, before Alex Murray scored to put Oxford City ahead. Swindon pulled their netminder in an effort to force overtime, but Richard Facey fired into the empty net to seal his hat-trick—and the win for Solent. Still, it’s yet another result will breed confidence amongst the Wildcats players.

Oxford (15 wins/2 regulation losses, 30 points) don’t need any more confidence, but they do need to keep up their winning pace. They are two points ahead of Bracknell in second, but the Hornets have two games in hand. Solent trail by five points, and have played three less games than the Stars. Oxford City have to keep picking up points against lower-ranked teams in order to stay ahead of the pack. They certainly did that on Sunday, obliterating Haringey Huskies by a score of 14-0. Haringey pulled goalie David Wride at the end of the first after he surrender five goals from 20 shots faced, but his replacement between the pipes, Jussi Lynch-Grut, didn’t do any better. Grut also failed to stop 25% of the shots he faced as Oxford added two goals in the second and seven more in the third. Joshua Florey scored the only hat-trick while five Stars players netted braces.

Swindon are a better team, and they keep proving this every week, but it’s hard to see this game going any other way than another win for Oxford City.

Don’s Prediction: Swindon 3-9 Oxford
Laurence’s Prediction: Swindon 3-10 Oxford

Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Guildford Phoenix

Cardiff host Guildford on Saturday in the Fire’s first of two games this weekend as they look to challenge Haringey for seventh place.

Cardiff (6 wins/5 regulation losses, 12 points) may not have points on the board, but they do have plenty of games in hand. Of the seven teams above them in the league, six have played at least three more games than the Fire have. Cardiff have six games in hand over league-leaders Oxford City. But as always with games in hand, they mean nothing in the end if you don’t win them. Cardiff will be looking for a four-point weekend and it all starts against the Phoenix. The two sides met in Guildford back in late November, and it was the Phoenix who took the points with an 8-4 win. The Fire will want to reverse that result on Saturday.

Guildford (9 wins/5 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 19 points) have continued to impress in their debut season in South 2. They sit in fifth place, and although their results have fallen off a little after a fast start to the season—they’ve won just three of their last seven—they’ve managed to keep pace with the top teams. All four of their most recent losses came against the former South 1 sides, and they notably took a point off Oxford City in an OT loss, so the Phoenix really have nothing to complain about. Certainly their first game of 2018 was one to celebrate, as they knocked off Lee Valley on Sunday, 12-1. Joshua Abbott scored a hat-trick, which gives him 15 goals and 25 points on the season, and Jonah Stoodley scored a brace for Guildford as they romped to a win.

Saturday’s game is really tough to call. Cardiff have been good at home this season, losing only to Oxford City and Peterborough. Guildford are 5-3 on the road, and again, all losses came against the ex-South 1 clubs. The Phoenix may have won the last meeting, but Cardiff are often poor on the road. This could go either way.

Don’s Prediction: Cardiff 6-7 Guildford (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Cardiff 7-5 Guildford

Sunday

Lee Valley Lions vs Slough Jets

Sunday’s clash with Slough is perhaps the biggest of the season for the Lions so far – they are rooted to the bottom of the table and yet to win a game. And after a tough schedule that has seen them visit three of the league’s top five teams since their last home game, they will hope this is the game that finally allows them to break their duck.

Lee Valley (13 regulation losses/2 OT losses, 2 points) have not had a season to remember thus far. They have not managed to string together a strong enough performance over the whole 60 minutes in order to win a game, and they have also lost both games that they have taken to OT. One of those was away to Slough back in November, where the Lions were hurt by a 5+game penalty against captain and top scorer Nick Alley, going down 8-3. They were only 4-3 down at that point and playing well, so they will be hoping to play a full game at that level – if they do, they will feel they have a chance of knocking off the Jets.

Slough are on good form, with six wins and five losses in their last 11 games – and three of those losses were to former NIHL1 clubs. They have improved drastically from last season, and will be desperate to get into the playoff places – they currently sit one place outside the playoffs, but are only behind Cardiff on goal difference. If player coach Lukas Smital can continue his strong scoring run – he has 13 + 31 = 44 in just 15 games this season – and veteran netminder Chris Douglas can continue his strong form in net too, they will be tough to stop in this one.

On current form, Slough are the favourites here. But considering how desperate the Lions will be to finally win a game – their last win was actually against Slough on April 8th 2017 – and how they played in that loss in November, there is a chance that they could edge this one. Expect an exciting game.

Don’s Prediction: Lee Valley 5-7 Slough
Laurence’s Prediction: Lee Valley 4-3 Slough (OT)

Bristol Pitbulls vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire

In what promises to be a tight encounter, Cardiff travel to Oxpens Road in Oxford to take on the Bristol Pitbulls. The meeting between the two sides in Wales earlier in the season ended with a narrow 3-2 win for the Fire, so the Pitbulls will look to reverse that result in this game.

Bristol (4 wins/8 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 9 points) have had a mostly underwhelming season to date. Aside from the stunning win over Chelmsford – probably the shock result of the season – they have struggled to string a good run together, and have lost their last three on the bounce. Whilst losing to teams like Oxford, Peterborough and Solent could have been expected, their last two games have seen them go down to Invicta and Slough – both teams that the Pitbulls will have aspirations of finishing above in the table. If they want to reach the top eight and thus the playoffs, the Pitbulls need to start stringing some good results together as soon as possible.

Cardiff have done an impressive job so far in NIHL2, considering how young the team is and how changeable the line-up can be from game to game – with some players helping out the NIHL1 Fire or unable to travel. We say it every week, but Cardiff sides are traditionally far better at home – however the Fire have also won two road games, proving that they can win outside of Wales too. With the NIHL1 Fire not playing on Sunday, expect a strong roster to make the short trip for this game. And if Rhys Harding (13 goals in nine games) and Robert Sedlak (10 goals in eight games) both continue their strong scoring form, this game could be very uncomfortable indeed for Bristol.

This one is really hard to call. The Pitbulls will be desperate to return to form at home, while the youthful Fire side will hope to continue their own strong form. This one should be tight, and could go to OT again just like the first encounter back in November.

Don’s Prediction: Bristol 5-6 Cardiff
Laurence’s Prediction: Bristol 5-4 Cardiff (OT)

Chelmsford Chieftains vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Swindon’s tough weekend continues on Sunday as they travel to Essex where they will play the Chieftains.

Both teams will be playing their second game in as many days. The Wildcats will have already faced Oxford City, and following that up with a trip to Chelmsford is not a nice way for a lower-ranked team to spend their weekend. Chelmsford, on the other hand, will have played Slough away on Saturday and although the Jets are a decent enough club, it’s unlikely they will cause any trouble for the Chieftains.

This could be a four-point weekend for the Essex team; for Swindon, this may be a weekend of no points, but if they can run either Oxford City or Chelmsford close, they can at least view that as a positive as they try to make a late-season push for the playoffs.

Don’s prediction: Chelmsford 11-4 Swindon
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 6-4 Swindon


Fixture information

Saturday
17:00 Solent Devils vs Basingstoke Buffalo
17:30 Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Invicta Mustangs
18:00 Slough Jets vs Chelmsford Chieftains
18:15 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Oxford City Stars
18:30 Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Guildford Phoenix

Sunday
17:30 Lee Valley Lions vs Slough Jets
18:15 Bristol Pitbulls vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings


We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games as we get the information. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!

Looking for info on the NIHL1 games? You can find the NIHL1 South weekend preview HERE.


482days Expert Prediction Competition (after week 16)

Don: 82pts
Laurence: 80pts

Our experts get 1 point for every correct result, and 3 points if they predict the exact score. (Although as they say: prediction is a mug’s game…)

Posted in Weekend Preview