Category: Weekend Preview

March 9th, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

The title battle in NIHL South 2 is really hotting up, with Bracknell coming out on top in last weekend’s crunch game with Solent to perhaps put themselves in the driver’s seat. With leaders Oxford having this weekend off, Bracknell and Solent have one crucial game each on Saturday in which they can further try to close down the gap to the City Stars at the top of the pile.

Bracknell face a tough trip to the “mini-hangar” on Saturday as they travel to face playoff-chasing Slough in a Berkshire derby, while Solent are also on the road as they face a Guildford side looking to secure a top six spot in the table. Another team on strong form are Chelmsford, who are in Kent on Saturday to face the Invicta Mustangs.

Chelmsford are in action again on Sunday as they welcome the Cardiff Fire to town, while Peterborough and Guildford face off in a key clash in the battle for fifth spot in the league. Finally, Bristol face Basingstoke in a battle of two sides who still have outside hopes of reaching the playoffs.

Saturday

Invicta Mustangs vs Chelmsford Chieftains

Any hopes that the Invicta Mustangs still have of making the playoffs could be put to bed on Saturday as they welcome a red hot Chelmsford side to town.

Invicta (6 wins/15 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 13 points) currently sit in 12th place, and can still mathematically qualify for the playoffs – although with a six point deficit to make up to Haringey in just four games, it will take a brilliant run of form for the Mustangs as well as other results going their way. The Kent-based side have only won six games all season, and have never won two on the bounce; and Saturday’s game will be no easy task as the Mustangs take on a Chieftains side who beat them 11-1 back in October.

Chelmsford (16 wins/5 regulation losses, 32 points) lost three of four games in January and seemed to be struggling in their battle to finish in the top four, but a fantastic month of February has put them right back in contention. The Essex side won all five games in February and have won both their games so far in March, putting them on a seven game winning streak in which they have scored 73 goals at an average of 10.4 goals per game! The dangerous Bartlett twins are on unbelievable form right now, with Cameron scoring 33 points in those seven games and Grant – voted NIHL South 2 Player of the Month for February – bagging 36 points in the same time span.

Invicta will do very well to get anything out of this encounter with a Chieftains side that are playing dominant hockey and have put themselves right back in contention for a strong league placing come the end of the season.

Don’s Prediction: Invicta 4-9 Chelmsford
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 3-10 Chelmsford

Guildford Phoenix vs Solent Devils

Following their defeat to Bracknell last week, the Solent Devils will look to keep their title challenge on track when they visit the Spectrum to take on a Guildford side looking to cement a top six finish.

Guildford (13 wins/8 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 27 points) made hard work of their victory over Basingstoke last weekend, defeating the Buffalo in overtime 3-2, and indeed the Phoenix have lost three of their last five games. One of those defeats was a 7-2 loss in Gosport against the Devils, and Guildford will hope for a better result than that at home against the same opposition. Player-coach Andrew Hemmings sits 14th in league scoring with 42 points in just 19 games, and the crafty veteran will have to be at his best – as will goalgetters Josh Abbott and Bailey Wootton – in order for Guildford to beat Solent in this one.

Solent (18 wins/2 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 37 points) finally saw their 14 game winning streak snapped last weekend as they went down 2-1 to Bracknell in a tight encounter. The next two games against Guildford and Haringey are crucial for Solent, as they finish the season in the toughest possible way: at home to Bracknell, away to Oxford, and then at home to Oxford. Only a win will do in this game if Solent want to keep up the pressure on the other two title-contending teams, and they will hope for big scoring from the likes of Richard Facey, Drew Campbell and the Murray brothers Alex and Mitchell – all of whom were kept goalless in the game against the Hornets.

While Solent will have been disappointed with last weekend’s result, they will still know that the title is within their grasp so they will be very motivated for this game. It should be closer than the previous encounter between the two sides, but expect Solent to come out on top in the end.

Don’s Prediction: Guildford 4-6 Solent
Laurence’s Prediction: Guildford 4-7 Solent

Slough Jets vs Bracknell Hornets

Slough have moved a step closer to the playoffs, but face tough opposition this weekend when they welcome in the formidable Bracknell Hornets in a Berkshire derby.

Slough (10 wins/13 regulation losses, 20 points) needed overtime to defeat Haringey in their marquee matchup last weekend, but defeat them they did, securing a vital two points to further secure seventh place in the league. Slough led 2-0 after the first period, but the Huskies mounted a rally and the game was level at 3-3 at the end of regulation. With both clubs level on points, and Cardiff and Bristol closing fast behind them for the final playoff spots, each club was desperate for the two points, and Liam Underdown secured them for Slough with the winning goal.

Bracknell (18 wins/1 regulation loss, 36 points) also picked up a huge win last time out, defeating second-place Solent 2-1 in regulation to move within a point of second place—and the Hornets still have two games in hand. Bracknell have every reason to hope they can finish the season in second—and there’s still a chance they could overtake Oxford City. But they’ll need to keep picking up wins, and Slough are not push-overs at the mini-Hangar. The Jets have beaten Chelmsford and Peterborough there—Bracknell better not coast into this game if they want the two points.

The two sides met back in late November in Bracknell, and it was the Hornets who emerged victorious, 9-3. Slough have improved since then, and have home ice on Saturday, but will that be enough against the dominant Hornets?

Don’s Prediction: Slough 4-3 Bracknell
Laurence’s Prediction: Slough 3-5 Bracknell

Sunday

Bristol Pitbulls vs Basingstoke Buffalo

Bristol and Basingstoke meet on Sunday, a week after both sides lost 3-2 to their respective opponents, virtually ending hopes of a late push for the playoffs.

Bristol (7 wins/13 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 15 points) are still in contention, perhaps, but they need a lot of wins and even more helpings of luck in order to chase down eighth place. The Pitbulls are mired in a three-game losing streak, and their last two losses were particularly painful, as they fell to Haringey and Swindon, both times by a solitary goal. Bristol fans might be optimistic about their club’s upcoming matches, as they play Basingstoke this week and then host 12th-place Invicta on the following Saturday. But their final four games are against Chelmsford, Guildford, Peterborough and Bracknell—and all on the road. Ouch.

Basingstoke (5 wins/13 regulation losses/4 OT losses, 14 points) have not been eliminated from contention, technically speaking, but in reality their chances are nil after another loss last weekend, this time in OT to Guildford. One point was not enough for the Buffalo, who sit five points out of the playoffs with four games remaining. They need to win three out of those four to take over eighth place—and that’s assuming that Haringey, Cardiff and Bristol don’t pick up any points. What’s more, the Buffalo are unlikely to win three of four, as they have to travel to face Slough, who have been brilliant at home, and Lee Valley, who will be furiously fighting for their first win of the season. Basingstoke then end the season against Chelmsford, and that should be their final game until next season.

So chances are neither side will make the playoffs, but who will prevail in this game? Bristol visited Basingstoke earlier in the season and came away with a 5-2 victory. Considering that the Pitbulls won’t have given up hope yet, they may come into this game with a bit more fighting spirit.

Don’s Prediction: Bristol 6-3 Basingstoke
Laurence’s Prediction: Bristol 4-2 Basingstoke

Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Guildford Phoenix

Guildford are in action for the second time in the weekend as they follow up a tough encounter against Solent with another difficult game, this time away to Peterborough. This game could go a long way towards determining who finishes fifth in the league come the end of the season.

Peterborough (14 wins/7 regulation losses, 28 points) had a relatively simple formbook up until last weekend: wins against classic NIHL2 sides, but defeats against the former NIHL1 clubs (the sole exception being their OT win over Solent back in October). Their last game saw the formbook ripped up however, as the Phantoms fell 4-1 to the Slough Jets at the “mini hangar”. None of Peterborough’s big names came to the party in that game, with 16-year-old forward Jarvis Hunt scoring their only goal, assisted by a pair of 17-year-old’s Taylor Romeo and Jack Escott – a goal guaranteed to make the majority of NIHL fans feel very old indeed! The Phantoms will hope that their usual dangerous players are back on top form for the visit of the Phoenix.

Guildford fell 2-1 at home to the Phantoms when the sides met at the start of last month, a game which showed how evenly-matched the two teams are. And with just one point between them in the table – Peterborough sit in fifth on 28 points while Guildford have 27 points in sixth – a victory for Guildford could prove to be massive for them, in what is still their first season at this level.

This game should be extremely tight, and it really is very hard to call. It would not be a surprise at all if it went all the way to overtime.

Don’s Prediction: Peterborough 4-3 Guildford
Laurence’s Prediction: Peterborough 3-2 Guildford (OT)

Chelmsford Chieftains vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire

Chelmsford put their good form on the line at home on Sunday against a Cardiff team still on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

Chelmsford have had a busy time of it recently, cramming in seven games from 4 February to 4 March. The result is that they have moved up into fourth place, qualified for the playoffs and no longer have a bunch of games in hand. The Chieftains have done well, winning all seven of those fixtures—but they don’t get any rest for the next few weeks. They’ll have already played against Invicta on Saturday, before Sunday’s game against Cardiff. Then on the following weekend they play Bracknell and Bristol back-to-back. The fitness of Chelmsford’s players is really being tested, but so far they’ve come through with flying colours.

Cardiff (8 wins/11 regulation losses, 16 points) are still three points out of the playoffs, sitting in ninth behind Haringey; but the Fire have four games in hand on the Huskies. The bad news for Cardiff is that besides playing Chelmsford on Sunday, they still have to face Oxford City, Peterborough and Bracknell. They will play two must-win games against Swindon—and they are away to Haringey on 7 April. The winner of that game will probably be the club that goes to the playoffs.

Cardiff have won just twice in their last eight games, and when they hosted Chelmsford last month, the Chieftains went away with an 11-3 win. Cardiff would love to pick up an upset on the road—it would do wonders for their playoff chances—but look for Chelmsford to get the points.

Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 12-4 Cardiff
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 9-5 Cardiff


Fixture information

Saturday
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Chelmsford Chieftains
17:30 Guildford Phoenix vs Solent Devils
18:00 Slough Jets vs Bracknell Hornets

Sunday
17:00 Bristol Pitbulls vs Basingstoke Buffalo
17:30 Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Guildford Phoenix
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings
High and low indicate highest and lowest possible finishing position in the league


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 25th February)

Don: 122pts
Laurence: 118pts

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

March 2nd, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

One of the biggest games of the NIHL South 2 season takes place on Saturday, with title chasers Bracknell and Solent facing off against each other. With league leaders Oxford having a weekend off, Saturday’s game between the Hornets and the Devils could have massive repercussions on the title picture. Bracknell are the only team to have beaten Oxford this season, completing the double over the Stars, and they lie eight points back but have five games in hand. Solent themselves are five points behind Oxford with three games in hand. So whichever team wins this game could turn out to be the Stars’ main title challenger come the end of the season.

Another big game on Saturday sees Slough, currently sitting seventh in the table, travel to Alexandra Palace to take on Haringey who lie in eighth. With ninth placed Cardiff also in action against Swindon, and only the top eight teams in the league reaching the playoffs, whoever wins this game can feel they have at least one foot in the post-season.

Basingstoke, who sit in 11th and still have an outside chance of the playoffs, are also in action on Saturday as they host a Guildford side looking to secure a top six finish. Meanwhile winless Lee Valley face fifth placed Chelmsford in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday, while Swindon also play on Sunday as they host Bristol.

Saturday

Haringey Huskies vs Slough Jets

In a game which could have huge ramifications in the playoff race, Haringey welcome in Slough as both sides look to gain the upper hand.

Haringey (9 wins/13 regulation losses, 18 points) are sitting eighth, but are level on points with Slough, who are in seventh. The Huskies currently occupy the final playoff spot, but they need only look over their collective shoulders to see Cardiff and Bristol closing in on them—and both those sides have three games in hand on Haringey. So the Huskies need to win, and keep winning in order to stay safe. Depending on other results, they can lose a game and still have a chance to make the playoffs—but they can’t lose against their rivals. This weekend against Slough, and the final weekend of the regular season at home to Cardiff, are absolutely must-wins for Haringey. Regarding form, Haringey come into Saturday’s game with a mixed bag of results from last weekend. They defeated Bristol 3-2 on Saturday, which was a huge result for the Huskies, but were crushed by Chelmsford, 11-1, on Sunday.

Slough (9 wins/13 regulation losses, 18 points) are in a slightly more enviable position than Haringey. True, they’ve played the same number of games, have the same number of points and are in just as much danger of being chased down by Cardiff and Bristol; but Slough have a much easier remaining schedule, when compared to the Huskies. The Jets have a tough home game against Bracknell, and then end the season at home against Basingstoke and away to Swindon. Those last two games are very winnable for Slough, and should they beat Haringey this weekend, they’re looking at a potential three wins from their last four, which would probably be enough to secure one of the final two playoff spots. Slough are also on a bit of a high as they head to Haringey—after losing 15-0 to Peterborough earlier in the season, last weekend the Jets turned it around at home and defeated the Phantoms 4-1.

So what’s the long and short of it? If Haringey win, the field is still very much open between the four truly competitive clubs, but Haringey will have a slight advantage over the Jets. If Slough win, they’ll be in a good position, but absolutely nothing is guaranteed. What an exciting time we live in.

Don’s Prediction: Haringey 6-7 Slough (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Haringey 4-5 Slough

Bracknell Hornets vs Solent Devils

A huge game for both title-chasing clubs takes place at the Hive on Saturday, as Bracknell and Solent face off for the first time this season. Both sides have only lost once in regulation time this season and are on 10 (Bracknell) and 14 (Solent) game winning streaks respectively. Something’s got to give…

Bracknell (17 wins/1 regulation loss, 34 points) have been impressive all season, mixing thumping wins with tight victories, always doing enough for victory except for one loss to Chelmsford back in October. The fact that they are eight points off the top of the league is misleading, as they have played a full five games less than Oxford. Bracknell came out on top in both the direct league meetings with the Stars, winning 9-6 and 5-4. A win in this game will see them close to within one point of Solent, who sit three points ahead but have played two more games. Last weekend, the Hornets beat Swindon 5-1 with five different players bagging the goals.

Solent (18 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 37 points) have probably exceeded expectations so far this season – while they were always likely to have a strong season after dropping down from division 1, many people saw them behind the likes of Oxford, Bracknell and Chelmsford in the pecking order. The South Coast side have done a fantastic job to sit second in the league at this stage, with three games in hand on Oxford and just a five point deficit. It must be noted, however, that they have not played either Oxford or Bracknell yet. Solent’s four games against these two sides will be crucial to determining how their final league placing looks. On top form for the Devils in February were Mark Pitts (4+8=12 in three games) and Mitchell Murray (7+1=8 also in three games) as well as the usual suspects Richard Facey, Alex Murray and Drew Campbell.

This is a really hard game to call, especially as we have not seen Solent in action yet against either of the other top three sides. Given that Bracknell knocked off Oxford twice earlier in the season, we know that the Hornets can win the really big games – so this, coupled with home ice advantage, may give them the edge in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Bracknell 4-3 Solent (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Bracknell 7-5 Solent

Cardiff NIHL2 FIre vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Cardiff continue their push for the playoffs with a must-win game at home against Swindon on Saturday.

Cardiff (8 wins/11 regulation losses, 16 points) have not played Swindon yet this season, but they will feel pretty confident coming into this game, knowing that they have home ice advantage. The Fire have only won twice in their last eight games, but that run included four games against the former South 1 clubs. Last weekend, Cardiff picked up a big win over Basingstoke, 6-3. Five players found the back of the net, with Carter-Jaice Lloyd scoring a brace, as Cardiff fired 71 shots at Buffalo netminder Aaron Craft.

Swindon (3 wins/16 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) also defeated Basingstoke for their more recent win—but that was on 27 January. Since then, the Wildcats have lost four games, although they have put together some good performances. On Sunday, they played away to Oxford City and only lost 8-6. All goals were scored by different players for Swindon, and they led 4-2 in the second period. But the Stars rallied and a shorthanded goal from Joshua Oliver in the 55th minute put Oxford in the lead, and then an empty-net goal in the final minute sealed a far-from-comfortable win for the league leaders.

So both teams come into this game with real confidence. Cardiff know they can win at home; Swindon nearly upset the Stars last week. The fact that the Fire still have something to fight for this season may give them a slight edge.

Don’s Prediction: Cardiff 5-6 Swindon
Laurence’s Prediction: Cardiff 6-4 Swindon

Basingstoke Buffalo vs Guildford Phoenix

Speaking of Basingstoke, they sit in 11th with a very slim chance to making the playoffs. But they’ll need lots of wins from their remaining five games, and will need to pick up two points on Saturday at home to Guildford

Basingstoke (5 wins/13 regulation losses/3 OT losses, 13 points) have had a tough time this season. They finally snapped their 10-game losing streak with a victory over the winless Lee Valley Lions a fortnight ago, only to return to losing ways last week against Cardiff. The Buffalo are currently five points behind Slough and Haringey for the final playoff spots, and have one game in hand—which is small consolation considering that Cardiff and Bristol are still ahead of them in the queue and have three games in hand on current holders Slough and Haringey. The good news for Basingstoke is that they still have remaining games against Slough (a must-win—for both clubs, really!), a luckless Lee Valley and Bristol. Their final game of the season is against a former South 1 club—but it’s the lower ranked of that lot, Chelmsford.

Guildford (12 wins/8 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 25 points) have just about clinched a playoff spot, despite having lost three of their last four games, with that one win coming against Swindon. Last week they hosted Chelmsford and were handed a tough 7-2 defeat. The Phoenix started brightly, as Jared Lane scored inside of two minutes to give them the lead, but Guildford didn’t score again until the third period, while the Chieftains scored regularly as they marched their way into the playoffs.

But Guildford know that they will be securing their playoff spot soon, and they also know that they can potentially go as high as third when all is said and done, even though they only sit sixth at the moment. Look for the Phoenix to play positively against Basingstoke and take the two points—although you never know, since the Buffalo won 5-4 when the two sides met back in October.

Don’s Prediction: Basingstoke 3-8 Guildford
Laurence’s Prediction: Basingstoke 2-5 Guildford

Lee Valley Lions vs Chelmsford Chieftains

The only winless team left in division 2 welcomes a team on a five game winning streak on Saturday as Lee Valley host Chelmsford at The Den.

The Lions (16 regulation losses/3 OT losses, 3 points) did not play last weekend, but on the weekend before that they took a tough 5-2 away loss to Basingstoke. Despite dominating the final period, the Lions could not score more than two goals and Basingstoke sealed the win with an empty netter. This weekend will be tough for the Lions with back to back games against a Chelmsford side that finally seems to be hitting top form. Lee Valley will need to be solid at the back and more ruthless going forward if they want to be in with a chance of taking something from either of these games.

The Chieftains (14 wins/5 regulation losses, 28 points) have won their last five and are finally showing the kind of form a lot of people expected from them all season long. The dangerous duo of twins Grant (10+15=25) and Cameron (10+8=18) Bartlett scored a combined 43 points in the Chieftains’ five February games, and will be very hard to stop as always. At the other end of the ice, the Chieftains only let in 11 goals in those five games and in Sonny Phillips possess one of the best netminders in the league.

While the Lions will hope to use home ice to their advantage in this one, it will be pretty difficult for them to get anything out of this game against a fired-up Chieftains side, who will want to secure fourth place in the league and could still challenge for a top three spot if they continue their recent form.

Don’s Prediction: Lee Valley 1-6 Chelmsford
Laurence’s Prediction: Lee Valley 3-8 Chelmsford

Sunday

Chelmsford Chieftains vs Lee Valley Lions

Unusually, Chelmsford and Lee Valley face off again 24 hours later, this time at the Riverside, in a game that was rescheduled from December due to snowy conditions causing the game to be called off.

With the snow currently falling up and down the country, we just hope the game isn’t called off again and that it can go ahead.

Most of what was written in Saturday’s preview also applies to this game – the Chieftains will look to get big scoring from the Bartlett twins as always, as well as from the likes of import forward Michal Oravec. Meanwhile the Lions will need to be tight in defence and have more of a cutting edge up front – if they are to take anything from either of the games, they will need the likes of Nick Alley, Matt Brown and Ross Sin-Hidge to score big.

While we can expect the Lions to work hard as always, this game should be even tougher for them than the previous night’s encounter, with it being the second game in as many days and being an away game too. Regardless of the previous night’s result, we can probably expect a Chieftains win here.

Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 8-2 Lee Valley
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 10-3 Lee Valley

Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Bristol Pitbulls

Swindon hit the ice for the second time over the weekend as they welcome in playoff contenders Bristol.

The Wildcats will have just played what promises to be a hard game against Cardiff, and this matchup against Bristol doesn’t look to be much easier. The two teams met a month ago, and the Pittbulls were 9-1 winners, but of course that was once home ice for Bristol. Swindon may have a better chance in this game.

Bristol (7 wins/12 regulation losses, 14 points) are looking to move on from a disappointing result last weekend against Haringey, which was won by the Huskies, 3-2. Bristol outshot Haringey, complied fewer penalty minutes and led 1-0 well into the second period; but unlike most hockey games, this was a game of two halves. Haringey equalised in the 29th minute and went on to take a 3-1 lead. Bristol pulled one back late but couldn’t complete the comeback. It was a significant result—a win for the Pitbulls would have put Haringey, Bristol and Cardiff all level on points. But it was not to be for Bristol.

They’ll want to change their fortunes this weekend. It’s imperative that they win against Swindon if they’re going to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Don’s Prediction: Swindon 4-6 Bristol
Laurence’s Prediction: Swindon 3-5 Bristol


Fixture information

Saturday
17:30 Haringey Huskies vs Slough Jets
17:30 Lee Valley Lions vs Chelmsford Chieftains
18:00 Bracknell Hornets vs Solent Devils
18:30 Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
18:30 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Guildford Phoenix

Sunday
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Lee Valley Lions
19:45 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Bristol Pitbulls


NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings
High and low indicate highest and lowest possible finishing position in the league


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 25th February)

Don: 117pts
Laurence: 113pts

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

March 2nd, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

A relatively quiet week in NIHL1 South this weekend in terms of the number of games. But it’s a huge one in terms of the impact on the final league table and the first piece of silverware!
<Late breaking edit> – or it would have been if it wasn’t for the snow!
The Autumn Cup final first leg is definitely postponed, as is MK vs Cardiff in the league – let’s keep our fingers crossed for the rest!
We’ll be keeping an eye across the league for any further postponements and will make sure to publicise on twitter.

League action
What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? OK Basingstoke and Peterborough may not quite meet those descriptions as both have dropped points to other clubs  this season – but for quite a while now they have been neck and neck with win matching win and only a whisker between them in one of the tightest title races we have had in the NIHL. At the moment it is just about ‘advantage Bison’ but only just. A regulation win for Peterborough would completely change that. So far the league games between them have been as tight as tight can be. All won in regulation (2 by Bison, 1 by Phantoms) but each by just a single goal margin.

Permutations on the head to head:
Peterborough win by 2 or more : Peterborough win the head to head
Peterborough win by 1 in regulation: Head to head is matched
Bison win or take it to OT: Bison win the head to head.

Why does the head to head matter? Because if Peterborough do win in regulation and both teams win both of their other remaining games then they will finish on equal points and the head to head result between them will be what decides the league title. If they are equal on head to head as well then it goes to overall goal difference (currently Peterborough are +86 to Bison’s +83) and if that is even then it goes to goals scored (currently Peterborough have 146 to Bison’s 138). In the incredibly unlikely event that those also end up even – well who knows! At the moment the rules of competition state “In the event of further criteria being required, the League statistician will provide additional criteria according to IIHF rules.” IIHF bring results from the next highest ranked team down into play – so Swindon could still end up having had a major say in where the title goes (IF it went to this, Phantoms would win with 7 points to Bison’s 6 against the Wildcats).

Of course all of that’s for the future and while it is possible, it’s probably unlikely it will get down quite as far as bringing Swindon’s results in (although I wouldn’t bet against a very tight game with a one goal winning margin by either side!). What it does mean is that this is going to be one hell of an important match and I hope we get a game that is worthy of the occasion!

Of course – there are 5 other league games going on this weekend and we could also see the battle for 4th decided as Bracknell host London on Sunday. These two are equal on points at the moment, although London do have a game in hand. Any regulation win for London would give them the overall tie against Bracknell but any other result would give Bracknell the overall tie should the two end the season equal on points. Bracknell will be without mercurial forward Frankie Bakrlik who was ejected from his last game for a match penalty for a check to the head. As this also puts him on 15 penalty points it means he will miss an absolute minimum of 4 games (1 for the penalty and 3 for points accumulation) and it’s likely to be at least one more than that as the recommended starting point for a checking to the head match penalty is 2 games according to the EIHA disciplinary webpage. London have been blessed with a full squad for the last few weeks (with Alan Lack’s facial injury the last one they picked up – and he’s been back for over a month now!). The last time the sides met back in January, it was a 6-3 home win for the Raiders, but this is on home turf for the Bees now and it should be a pretty decent game.

Both London and Bees have tough away games to play on the Saturday before this match up as London travel up to Peterborough and Bees travel down the M4 to Swindon. Last weekend, London were made to look lacklustre against the Phantoms and they would love a better showing this time around. Bees meanwhile will want to repeat their recent home win against the Wildcats but it’s always a tougher proposition winning away.

Finally, on Sunday the old rivalry of Invicta against Streatham has its 7th outing of the season. This season the Redhawks have had the better of the Dynamos with 6 regulation wins from 6 so far. The Redhawks are still eyeing up the 4th and 5th placed teams above them and with only a 3 point gap between themselves and 4th – there is actually a decent chance that they could climb one more place. Invicta know that they can’t move above 8th now – but they really won’t want to give the Redhawks a clean sweep over them this season and so will fight this one to the death.

Note that Saturday’s game between Milton Keynes and Cardiff has now also been cancelled.

Autumn Cup action
Unfortunately the first leg of the Autumn Cup final which was due to be played in Basingstoke this evening has had to be postponed due to the weather. LINK


Fixture information​

Friday
19:45 Basingstoke Bison vs Swindon Wildcats (Autumn Cup Final) – OFF

Saturday
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
19:00 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1) – OFF
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs London Raiders (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
17:30 Peterborough Phantoms vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs London Raiders (NIHL1)


482days will have live twitter updates Peterborough on Sunday (weather permitting). 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.


NIHL1 Britton League
High and low indicate highest and lowest possible finishing position in the league

 

Posted in Weekend Preview

February 23rd, 2018 by Laurence Thorn

Nothing much changed in the NIHL South 2 title race last weekend, with the top three sides Oxford, Solent and Bracknell all taking a win apiece. This weekend Oxford are playing on both days as they look to extend their lead at the top, while Bracknell play once and Solent have the weekend off.

Saturday is a bumper day with six games scheduled – Solent and Lee Valley are the only sides not playing. With regards to the title contenders, Oxford travel to Kent to take on the Invicta Mustangs while Bracknell are also on the road in Swindon. There are also two big games in the battle for fourth place as Chelmsford travel to Guildford, while incumbents Peterborough will look to cement that place as they visit Slough. Finally the Haringey Huskies welcome the Bristol Pitbulls in a match that the Pitbulls are billing as a “real dog fight”, and Cardiff welcome Basingstoke to South Wales.

Sunday is relatively quiet with just two games on the bill. Oxford play Swindon in a battle of the West Country sides, while Chelmsford look to continue their run on fourth place in the league as they welcome Haringey to the Riverside.

Saturday

Invicta Mustangs vs Oxford City Stars

League leaders Oxford look to extend their advantage at the top as they travel to Kent to face 12th placed Invicta.

The Mustangs (6 wins/14 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 13 points) broke a run of three straight defeats last Saturday as they knocked off Basingstoke 3-2 on penalty shots. Young forward James Laming buried the winning shot, while netminder Matthew Passmore was voted Man of the Match for saving 50 shots in open play as well as stopping three of Basingstoke’s four penalty shots. Jake Stedman and Jake Luton had scored the Mustangs’ two goals in regulation time. It’s been a rollercoaster season for the Kent side with some hard-fought wins mixed in with some disappointing defeats, and this promises to be a tough game for a young Invicta team. The first meeting between the two sides earlier in the season saw Oxford triumph 14-1.

Oxford (19 wins/2 regulation losses, 38 points) took an expected win over Lee Valley last Saturday, although they never really hit top gear and struggled to break down the bottom side in the league at times. Nonetheless, the 8-0 win in east London was their fifth in a row and 19th on the season, with the Stars maintaining their place at the top of the league. However Solent and Bracknell both have enough games in hand that they could overtake the Stars if the leaders slip up, so it is imperative that the yellows keep winning in order to put the pressure firmly on the teams behind. After his hat-trick against Lee Valley on Saturday, Czech forward Kamil Kinkor now has 35 goals on the season, as well as 35 assists for a total of 70 points.

Invicta will be on a high after the win against Basingstoke last Saturday, but this game promises to be a very tough ask. It shouldn’t be as one-sided as the meeting in Oxford earlier in the season, but nonetheless expect a comfortable Stars win.

Don’s Prediction: Invicta 4-8 Oxford
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 1-8 Oxford

Guildford Phoenix vs Chelmsford Chieftains

A key game in the battle for fourth place takes place in Surrey with fifth placed Guildford entertaining Chelmsford who currently sit sixth. Both sides will be trying their best to catch Peterborough who currently sit in that fourth spot.

Guildford (12 wins/7 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 25 points) continue to impress in their first season in the league, already racking up 12 wins and finding themselves in a solid fifth place. Although it must be noted that they have not yet won a game against any of the former NIHL1 sides, of which Chelmsford are one. If they want to break that duck on Saturday, they will once again need good scoring from the likes of Andrew Hemmings and Josh Abbott, and will hope Bailey Wootton returns soon after missing last weekend’s win over Swindon.

Chelmsford (12 wins/5 regulation losses, 24 points) had an odd start to the season, starting their campaign very late and playing very sporadic games. This seemed to cause them to lose momentum – the Essex side have lost five games already – while it has also made it difficult to assess their true place in the pecking order. As the season has wore on and they have played more games, it looks like last season’s NIHL South 1 dominators are now locked in a three-way fight for fourth place with the aforementioned Peterborough and Guildford. The Chieftains have three games in hand on both the teams ahead of them, and if they win all of those games they could cement fourth place – so a win against Guildford in this game is crucial. Chelmsford beat Guildford earlier in the season 5-0, with now-departed import Filip Supa scoring a brace.

This game is tough to call, with the Chieftains on a three game winning run since their 11-4 demolition in Oxford last month and Guildford winning comfortably against the “classic” NIHL2 sides but regularly coming unstuck against the bigger teams. Chelmsford are the favourites to win this, but it should be tight.

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

Haringey Huskies vs Bristol Pitbulls

In a game Bristol are cleverly billing as a “real dog fight”, the Huskies and the Pitbulls clash in North London. The sides are just a point apart in the hunt for the playoffs, so this game could be key in determining whose season extends into mid-April.

Haringey (8 wins/12 regulation losses, 16 points) are on a really bad run at the moment, only winning one of their last nine games – and that was a tight OT win against a Basingstoke side who were also on a losing run. The Huskies started the season so well but are now hanging onto eighth place – the final playoff position – by the skin of their teeth. They are just one point ahead of Bristol but the Pitbulls have two games in hand, and win for the away side in this one would see them leapfrog the Huskies. The home side have struggled to score goals lately, bagging just 13 in their last six games (just over two a game). They need more production from their top forwards if they want to hold onto a playoff spot.

Bristol (7 wins/10 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 15 points) are going in the complete opposite direction to the Huskies. After a slow start to the season which saw Bristol way outside the playoff places, they now find themselves ninth just one point outside them. The Pitbulls have won three of their last five and will hope to knock off Haringey at Alexandra Palace, allowing them to leap into eighth place at the same time. Although they lost 9-5 to title-chasing Bracknell last weekend, they will be happy to have put five goals past the Hornets. Not only that: the goals came from five different players, showing that the scoring load in the Pitbulls team doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of one or two players.

This is a key game in the playoff picture and, although the Huskies are at home, on current form the Pitbulls seem to be the favourite to take an important win in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Haringey 5-4 Bristol (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Haringey 3-5 Bristol

Slough Jets vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms

Slough return to home ice for the first time in over a month, and they will be visited by phantoms—from Peterborough, of course!

The Jets (8 wins/13 regulation losses, 16 points) will be hoping for a bit more home ice magic, as the last time they played at the mini-Hangar they pulled up a shock upset over Chelmsford. Of course, the glow of that victory has probably diminished somewhat, as Slough have played three times since then, defeating the winless Lee Valley Lions but losing away to Guildford, 9-2, and then allowing Chelmsford to enact revenge with a 6-3 win over the Jets. Netminder Chris Douglas was brilliant against the Chieftains last week, facing 70 shots and stopping over 91% of them. But the offense couldn’t back up his strong performance, managing just 27 shots. Timo Lindgren picked up another brace, taking him to 22 goals from 18 games, while player-coach Lukas Smital assisted on all there Slough goals, meaning he now has a walloping 54 points from 19 matches.

Peterborough (14 wins/6 regulation losses, 28 points) have recovered nicely after a rough period that lasted from the beginning of November through to mid-January. They’ve won their last four games and are still sitting in fourth place, three points ahead of Guildford. The Phantoms had a week off for rest and recovery, and will go to Slough feeling pretty confident. After all, when Peterborough hosted Slough back in October, the Phantoms handed Slough a 15-0 loss, which remains the Jets heaviest loss this season.

However, the Jets do have home ice advantage, and the small mini-Hangar seems to give them quite an edge, as Chelmsford can testify—and Slough haven’t lost at home since falling to Oxford City in mid-November. But Peterborough may be able to end that run.

Don’s Prediction: Slough 4-7 Peterborough
Laurence’s Prediction: Slough 3-6 Peterborough

Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Bracknell Hornets

Swindon’s hopes of a late playoff push seem to have evaporated over the last few weeks, and this weekend’s opponents Bracknell may put an end to those hopes completely.

Swindon (3 wins/14 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) were handed another loss last Saturday at the hands of Guildford, 7-2, although the final scoreline may not have truly represented the game. The Wildcats were only outshot 30-25 and both teams kept the penalty minutes down. But two goals from Andy Hemmings and one from Jared Lane put the Phoenix up 3-0 after just 8:19, forcing Swindon to call at early timeout. It didn’t get much better for the Wildcats, though, as they trailed 5-1 after the first period, with Hemmings completing his hat-trick with one second left in the period. Swindon were unable to recover from the poor start, and are now sitting nine points behind Haringey in eighth with just eight games remaining on their schedule.

Bracknell (16 wins/1 regulation loss, 32 points) will want to quickly sweep Swindon aside as they have bigger fish to fry than just destroying the Wildcats dim hopes. The Hornets are still within touching distance of the top of the table, with Oxford City and Solent six and five points ahead, respectively—but Bracknell have several games in hand on both clubs. The Hornets are now riding a seven-game winning streak after last week’s 9-5 away victory over Bristol. True, they only managed one more shot on goal than the Pitbulls, but braces from Sean Scarborough, Daniel Hughes and Joshua Ealey-Newman, plus a five-point night from captain Steven Fisher, put Bracknell over the line.

This is a game between two teams on opposite ends of the table, and the score will surely reflect that—in Bracknell back in October, the Hornets ran out 10-3 winners. Expect the same on Saturday.

Don’s Prediction: Swindon 2-8 Bracknell
Laurence’s Prediction: Swindon 3-9 Bracknell

Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Basingstoke Buffalo

After taking their first win since November last weekend, the Basingstoke Buffalo look to win two games on the bounce as they make the tough trip to Cardiff.

Cardiff (7 wins/11 regulation losses, 14 points) have impressed this season considering the fact that their NIHL South 1 side has been beset with injury problems, regularly calling up players earmarked for the South 2 side. But the mixture of youth and experience in this Fire team has led them to seven wins in 18 games so far, and they currently sit just two points outside of the playoff places with two games in hand on eighth placed Haringey. They will hope to take their eighth win of the campaign at home to a Basingstoke team that, before last weekend’s 5-2 win over Lee Valley, hadn’t won since Remembrance Sunday.

The Buffalo (5 wins/12 regulation losses/3 OT losses, 13 points) finally gave their fans something to cheer about last Sunday evening, as the Hampshire side knocked off bottom club Lee Valley 5-2 to record their first win after ten losses on the bounce. Five different players scored the goals while netminder Aaron Craft stopped 41 of 43 shots, as the Buffalo survived a late barrage from the Lions and took victory. Mark Austen was voted as Man of the Match, having also put the icing on the cake with a late empty netter. Now the Buffalo will look to take that momentum into the game against Cardiff. The Fire won 6-2 in Basingstoke earlier in the season, although the Buffalo were missing starting netminder Craft on that occasion.

Despite their recent losing streak, the Buffalo still have a decent chance of reaching the playoffs – they are just three points behind Haringey. And with Cardiff being one of the sides ahead of them in that battle, this game is absolutely crucial for the Buffalo if they want to be in with a chance of reaching the post-season. Expect a tight game with a result that is difficult to predict.

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

Sunday

Oxford City Stars vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Oxford City play their second game of the weekend at home against Swindon, as the Wildcats are also in action for the second time this weekend.

Oxford will be hoping to come into this game with a six-game winning streak, as they play Invicta on Saturday. But whether that’s a win or a loss, the Stars will return to home ice on Sunday confident that they can pick up two points against Swindon. Last time the two sides met, which was on 20 January, Oxford came away from Swindon with a 9-2 win.

If Swindon should, by some chance, defeat Bracknell on Saturday, they would come into this game against Oxford with all kinds of momentum, although they would probably be exhausted from the effort of defeating the Hornets. However, it’s far more likely that Swindon will lose to Bracknell—and that would put them in an even worse position on Sunday.

Altogether, it looks like it’s going to be a good weekend for the league leaders—and a dismal one for Swindon, who still sit second from bottom in the league.

Don’s Prediction: Oxford 10-3 Swindon
Laurence’s Prediction: Oxford 10-0 Swindon

Chelmsford Chieftains vs Haringey Huskies

Another Sunday fixture, another game between two teams who will have already played once this weekend before they face each other, as Chelmsford welcome in Haringey.

The Chieftains have had games in hand for much of the season, and this weekend they’re playing twice, so it’s important for them to make these games count. On Saturday they have a tough away fixture against Guildford, and then on Sunday they are home against Haringey. This won’t be an easy weekend for Chelmsford, but they have their sights set on the clubs above them. Guildford and Peterborough are both within reach, and the Chieftains would love to finish in the top four. If they have a bad weekend, their chances of doing so will drop.

Haringey have even more incentive to win. They are sitting in the unenviable position of eighth place, trying desperately to hold on and make the playoffs. Saturday’s home against ninth-place Bristol is a must-win, but picking up two points against Chelmsford on Sunday wouldn’t hurt, either.

This could be a close game. One thing to note is that the Huskies are a hot-and-cold team. Which side shows up could determine which way this one goes.

Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 7-4 Haringey
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 11-3 Haringey


Fixture information

Saturday
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Oxford City Stars
17:30 Guildford Phoenix vs Chelmsford Chieftains
17:30 Haringey Huskies vs Bristol Pitbulls
18:00 Slough Jets vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms
18:15 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Bracknell Hornets
18:30 Cardiff NIHL2 Fire vs Basingstoke Buffalo

Sunday
18:15 Oxford City Stars vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Haringey Huskies


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 18th February)

Don: 111pts
Laurence: 107pts

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 23rd, 2018 by Nancy Carpenter

It’s all about the league this weekend in NIHL1 South. With finalists now known for both cup competitions (these to be played mid week with the Autumn Cup final kicking off next Friday), all attention is now on the league. And it’s a doozy of a competition at the top! If Bison and Phantoms haven’t given an inch, with neither team dropping a point since their last meeting – which is setting us up for a huge game next weekend which could well be the league decider. Bison currently hold the overall result between the teams by 2 points and one goal – but a regulation win for Phantoms could change all of that. We’ll go through the full permutations on that game in our article next week.

Eleswhere in the league we have some individual placing battles still ongoing. Swindon look pretty set in third and it would take a miracle to move them there (they can console themselves with their 2 cup finals), but London and Bracknell are still battling for that 4th place spot. While Raiders have the edge now with 2 points and a game in hand over the Bees, both teams have a tough run-in and a game to play each other before that spot is decided.  Bees also need to keep an eye on Streatham who are still just about within touching distance of 5th themselves. 7th and 8th look pretty set now as Milton Keynes and Invicta respectively – but both could potentially move up at least one place still.

Despite the doom and gloom at the beginning of the season – this is probably one of the most competitive NIHL1 South seasons we have ever had – and I’ve really enjoyed it!

League action
Basingstoke will finally make up that game in hand this weekend they’ve had for ages, as they play a double-header compared to Peterborough’s single game. But neither game is exactly a ‘gimme’ as they host Swindon on Saturday and travel to Bracknell on Sunday.  Swindon had an exhausting schedule: their cup semi-final win against Telford on Tuesday was their 7th game in 11 days. They seem to have come out of it fairly unscathed though with no news of any injuries picked up and will doubtless have enjoyed their first spell of 4 whole days without a game!  Bracknell Bees form and performances have picked up recently and with them also chasing a top 4 finish, they won’t want to help their local rival out here. Bison beat both side 5-2 at their last meetings – but I wouldn’t be surprised to see much tighter scorelines their games this weekend.

Peterborough have just the once game this Saturday as they travel to the new Romford rink. This is a potential banana skin for them as the Raiders have turned into one hell of a side this season. They came incredibly close to taking the points from Bison last Sunday and were disappointed to end up with nothing from a game where they pretty much matched the other team from start to finish. They also want to consolidate that 4th place spot in the league and will not want to do any favours for a team that nicked their keeper earlier in the season (although Michael Gray has massively stepped up his game and been a fantastic replacement and could well be in consideration for the player of the month award for February).

London then travel to Swindon on the Sunday. Grabbing the 3rd place spot is probably beyond them now (for certain if Swindon win on Saturday), but they will want to build up form in the run-up to the playoffs. Swindon with one eye on their upcoming cup finals cannot afford to take their eye off the ball in this one though if they want to give their fans another home win to celebrate.

Milton Keynes also have a double-header this weekend as they host Bracknell on Saturday and then travel to Invicta on Sunday.  Thunder have lost all 3 of their games against the Bees so far, although they did take them all the way to penalty shots at their last meeting a month ago, can they go one better? The form book suggested that Sunday’s game in Kent should also be a good one. These sides have  played out 3 low-scoring battles so far this season with Thunder taking two 3-2 regulation wins and Dynamos taking a 2-1 OT win. This really could go either way.

Finally, Streatham host Cardiff on Saturday. Both sides have just the one game this weekend and after the events of a week ago, this result may not be the foregone conclusion you might have thought before then! I was delighted to see Fire pick up their first points of the season (and was desperately disappointed for them not to see them get the OT win). But taking first Invicta and then Swindon to OT shows the grit they have in the team. It’s been a huge learning experience for much of the team, jumping up from 4th tier to 2nd tier hockey and hasn’t been helped by the sheer number of the injuries to their more experienced players. The good news for them is that they seem to have a couple of those players back and with everyone else learning about the speed and skills needed to compete. Add in a hugely in form netminder, who must surely be being eyed up by an EIHL team or two as well as having the potential to be a senior GB team member on the basis of this season!  Streatham meanwhile have had an up and down season, but have probably had more ups than downs. They had a great run in the cup but have struggled for consistency in the league. They have taken points from all but one of the other teams in the league (Phantoms) and have the overall series win against one of the ex-EPL teams (Bees). This will be a tough test for the Fire, especially away from home and with their NIHL2 team also having a game, but if they want to show their progression, they will need to at least better their 6-0 loss of the last time these sides met.

 


Fixture information​
Saturday
17:30 Streatham IHC vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
17:45 London Raiders vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
19:00 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)

Sunday
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs London Raiders (NIHL1)


482days will have live twitter updates from Romford on Saturday and maybe Invicta on Sunday (TBC). 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 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