It’s the second leg of the Autmn Cup final today as Peterborough and Sheffield do battle for the first silverware of the season. We also have 6 league games this weekend to take a look at.
Autumn Cup Action
The Autumn Cup reaches its conclusion tonight in a winner-takes-all game between Peterborough and Sheffield. The first leg, held in Sheffield last week, ended in a 2-2 draw. Ashley Calvert scored a 2nd period brace to give the home side a 2-0 advantage which they held on to until the 54th minute when Glenn Billing and Ales Padelek scored within 19 seconds of each other to level up the game.
The two teams are currently both top of their respective leagues by a two point margin with games in hand. Steeldogs are currently unbeaten in the league, while Phantoms have just one regulation and one OT loss to their name. So what we have is a winner-takes-all battle between two teams who are pretty much at the top of their game at the moment!
In the group stages, the two games between them were low scoring thrillers. Steeldogs won in regulation by the odd goal in three at Peterborough but Phantoms took immediate revenge the next day with an OT win in Sheffield to take a 3-2 win there.
All the omens are very good for this to be one hell of a game this evening – and @482days will be there to cover it with live twitter – although for those who can’t be there in person, we also highly recommend the excellent live stream that the Phantoms will be doing.
It’s a relatively quiet Saturday this weekend, with just 2 league games.
There’s be no nursing the post cup-final hangover (whether in celebration or commiseration) for the Phantoms who travel to Basingstoke to face the team that pipped them to the post in the league honours last season. Since then of course the sides have met twice this season, and Phantoms have taken all the points in those encounters with a 2-1 regulation win in Basingstoke and a 3-1 win at home. Bison had back to back 5-1 wins last weekend against Streatham and Invicta to keep them firmly in the top half of the table and still within reach of retaining their league title.
In the other game, Swindon will be looking to keep the pressure up on the Phantoms in the league race as they host Invicta. While no game is ever a sure thing until the final whistle, Wildcats have comfortably had the better of the Mos so far this season and have yet to concede a goal to them with 6 points and a 20-0 aggregate scoreline from the three games between the sides so far. For Mos, this looks like an uphill battle, but at the very least they will want to break that shut-out scoreline and will be giving it everything as they do every time.
All 8 teams are in action on Sunday, meaning that Phantoms will play their third game in less than 72 hours as they host MK Thunder. The fantastic news out of Milton Keynes this week has been that they met their funding target and so this will now not be their final game of the season! 482days would like to say well done to the hockey community both within MK and the league as a whole. So impressive to see how everyone has pulled together this season to help two struggling teams.
It’s also clear that the Thunder have been really pulling together on the ice as well with 2 strong wins in the last two weekends after first beating Bison in a penalty shootout before taking a very healthy 5-1 win against Streatham last weekend. They have shown that they are not a team to be taken lightly and Phantoms will need to stay sharp.
After a slow start to the season, Raiders are having a fantastic December and are now on a 4-game winning streak. Despite being outshot by both the Wildcats and the Bees, the Romford team managed to come out with 4 points with two very good regulation wins. Netminder Michael Gray is also clearly on a hot streak himself as he had a combined save percentage of over 95% across the two games last weekend to add to his 29-shot shutout against the Dynamos the weekend before. This weekend, Raiders will once again face the Wildcats as the Wiltshire based outfit look for revenge on their 5-2 home loss.
For Streatham, last weekend was very much the other side of the coin. The Redhawks will have been disappointed to drop to 6th in the league last weekend after back to back 5-1 losses against Bison and Thunder. They face the Bison again this weekend and will be looking to put the smiles back on their home fans’ faces.
Finally, Bees travel to Kent to play the Dynamos. This week the Bracknell outfit announced that they were parting ways with import David Millner who has now been announced as moving to NIHL2 title contenders Chelmsford. Bees certainly seem to be struggling to find the right fit for their second import slot this season with Millner being the third to be released from the slot already this season. Mos are also one import short of the allowance at the moment as they continue to search for the right fit for their squad.
We’ll be covering the Autumn Cup final this evening and will also have live updates from across the whole of #oneNIHL all weekend.
Looking for info on the NIHL2 South games? You can find the NIHL2 South preview HERE where our NIHL2 correspondent Laurence Thorn takes a look at all the action in that league this weekend.
19:30 Peterborough Phantoms vs Sheffield Steeldogs (Autumn Cup Final)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
17:30 Peterborough Phantoms vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1/Cup)
17:30 Raiders vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
Tables for active competitions this weekend
NIHL1 Britton League
NIHL1 South Cup Group Stage