Credit: Chris Cornford Photography
In the next few days, I’ll be starting a new feature which is called ‘I can’t think of a decent name for this series yet. Someone think of a decent one in the comments’. Since the the 2008/09 season, there hasn’t been an NIHL playoff champion across the entire league, i.e the North and South. But, (and this is the question that occurred to me), what if there was?
And what if, as opposed to the existing playoff system we have now, we had it across 16 teams, 8 from the North, 8 from the South? And what if, we had a made up fantasy competition trying to figure out the whole thing with one person arbitralily making it up as they went along?
The eagle-eyed of you out there will already be saying, “But Carpo, there’s only 7 teams in Division 1 North”. Fair point, but I’m adding Solihull as the 8th side to make this entire thing work.
So based upon this, we have 16 teams for this crazy playoffs. Just like normal playoffs, each team to play best of two legs and this has the first round looking like this:
Game A: Blackburn Hawks vs London Raiders
Game B: Billingham Stars vs Solent & Gosport Devils
Game C: Solway Sharks vs Milton Keynes Thunder
Game D: Sheffield Spartans vs Bracknell Hornets
Game E: Chelmsford Chieftains vs Solihull Barons
Game F: Invicta Dynamos vs Manchester NIHL Phoenix
Game G: Streatham Redskins vs Whitley Warriors
Game H: Wightlink Raiders vs Sutton Sting
There’s some fascinating games in there. For me, the tie of the round of the Chelmsford vs Solihull. You know that Chelmsford should win it, probably will win it, but in the same, Solihull have been formidable at home (And pretty much everywhere) and should post a strong challenge.
Game D, Sheffield vs Bracknell should also be an interesting one. Bracknell with the slightly younger squad but both teams are packed full of players that have grown up through the respective clubs and I’d see them being closely fought matches.
For you fans of 1980’s hockey, there’s some nostalgia overload which sees Streatham take on Whitley Bay for their first competitive game in, I don’t know, a very, very long time. I’d expect to some a fair few 80’s jersey’s in the crowd for this one.
Elsewhere, I wouldn’t fancy being either Billingham or Solent’s coach driver for this weekend as they will be racking up the mileage for sure, as will Milton Keynes whose solid defence could pose a challenge for Solway.
The first article will be up in a few days time (probably in a quiet day on 482 days I’d guess!)