There are bumper total of nine NIHL South 2 games on the schedule for this upcoming weekend, with five being played on Saturday and four on Sunday.
The key game of the weekend takes place on Saturday – the Bracknell Hornets welcome the Oxford City Stars to the Hive, as last season’s third placed team faces off against the reigning league champions.
Solent Devils vs Lee Valley Lions
A winless Lee Valley side have a tough task on Saturday, as they visit Gosport to take on the reigning playoff champions, the Solent Devils.
The Devils are unbeaten so far this season, although they have only played two games to date. In those two games, they have scored a total of 23 goals and conceded only four; with Alex Murray bagging 15 points and Richard Facey one behind on 14 points from those two games.
The Devils also announced the re-signing of Canadian import forward Drew Campbell ahead of last Sunday’s 10-2 win in Swindon, as he comes out of a brief retirement to bolster the club’s scoring ranks even more. Campbell had 2 assists in the game against Swindon, and it shouldn’t take him long to hit top form once again.
The Lions suffered a 0-9 home defeat to the Invicta Mustangs last Saturday, as they failed to put the puck past a red-hot Matthew Passmore in the Mustangs net and gave up too many soft goals at the other end. The Lions’ cause was not helped by losing both Joe Weare and James O’Brien to injury during the game, and we will have to see what kind of numbers the East London side will take to Gosport on Saturday – they have been rather short-benched in all four games so far this season.
Anything other than a Devils win would be a major shock here – expect the likes of Murray, Facey and Campbell to combine for a lot of points in this one.
Invicta Mustangs vs Cardiff Fire
Another winless side makes a road trip on Saturday, as Cardiff travel to Kent to face the Mustangs.
Invicta broke their duck on the season last Saturday as they knocked off Lee Valley 9-0. As mentioned above, netminder Matthew Passmore was on great form while Aaron Ferris bagged a hat-trick and Bradley Gutridge scored a brace in an impressive win for the Mustangs – especially considering they were missing some players who had been called up by the NIHL1 Dynamos.
Cardiff have played two, lost two so far; player-coach Disco Douglas’ side haven’t quite got going yet, going down 3-4 to Basingstoke and then 2-7 to Slough, both in South Wales. Their first road game of the season also sounds like a tricky one, as they travel to a Mustangs side high on confidence after last weekend’s victory. The Fire need more goals from their forwards, with only five goals having been scored in the two games so far – on paper, they do have the firepower to start doing this, but time will tell if they are able to kickstart their season this weekend.
This is an interesting game, with the Mustangs looking to win two in a row and the Fire still looking for their first win of the season. Any result is possible here.
Raiders NIHL2 vs Haringey Huskies
The Sapphire in Romford will host an interesting game on Saturday, as Raiders 2 host the Huskies for the first time ever.
While it is the first time these particular incarnations of Romford and Haringey sides meet, there will be a lot of familiarity on both sides; Raiders players Sam Roberts, Matt Brown and Robbie Veares are all ex-Haringey, while Jack Lee, Ryan Payne, Mark Robinson, Seb Downing, Lee Mercer, Ben Osborne, Sam Park, Stephen Woodford and the injured Ali Band have all played for Romford/London Raiders sides in the past, and are now on the Haringey roster.
This should lead to an intense game, especially as both sides have already each experienced a heated game against Chelmsford in recent weeks, so have shown that they are not afraid of the rough stuff should it be required. The Raiders went down 1-7 in Chelmsford in their last game, Bailey Chittock scoring their only goal in an ill-tempered affair that saw a total of 106 penalty minutes being handed out.
The Huskies went down 3-9 to the Chieftains earlier in the season (with a total of 112 penalty minutes being handed out…) but since then have taken their first win with a 3-2 victory over Guildford, before losing last weekend to Oxford by the highly respectable score of 1-4. David Wride stopped 49 of 53 shots in that one as the Huskies frustrated the City Stars, while Seb Downing grabbed the only goal for Haringey.
This game is a hard one to call, with both rosters containing a lot of firepower. It should be an intense game, whatever the result.
Slough Jets vs Peterborough Phantoms
Another fascinating game faces off on Saturday as Slough welcome Peterborough to their newly-refurbished rink.
The two games between these sides last season couldn’t have been more different; Peterborough smashed Slough 15-0 at home last October, with Clint Herring and Shaun Yardley bagging eight points each and Slough netminder Disco Douglas stopping 52 of 67 shots. However in the return game at Slough’s tiny temporary rink, the Jets dispatched the Phantoms 4-1, with Slough player-coach Lukas Smital scoring a brace and Disco Douglas stopping 53 of 54 shots.
Slough have now moved out of their temporary rink, and Disco Douglas is no longer their goalie, but they continue to move forward as a club and have had an impressive season to date; after an expected defeat to Oxford, they lost to Chelmsford by the odd goal in 13 before big wins over Lee Valley and Cardiff to vault themselves up to sixth in the table. Player-coach Smital continues to lead the way with 20 points from just four games; while his son, netminder Matt Smital, has stopped 92 of 108 shots thus far this season.
Peterborough have had a slightly stuttering start to the season, with their only regulation win so far coming against Lee Valley. They did beat Bristol 4-3 last weekend in a tight game, but needed overtime to do it; Shaun Yardley the hero on the night with a goal in the 62nd minute to clinch the game. The Phantoms will hope to take a big road win this weekend in order to start building a win streak and move up the table.
Another tough game to call, this one; Slough have played really well in their last three games and will come into this one with confidence, but the Phantoms will fancy their chances of getting something from this game too.
Bracknell Hornets vs Oxford City Stars
In all likelihood the biggest game of the weekend takes place on Saturday night at the Hive, as Bracknell welcome Oxford to town for a big encounter.
The City Stars lost only three games last season on their way to the league title, but two of those came against the Hornets; Bracknell winning 9-6 at home and 5-4 on the road to take four points out of four against Oxford last campaign.
And the Hornets will hope to be a “bogey team” for Oxford again this time around, as two unbeaten teams clash in this game. Bracknell have won three from three so far, scoring 16 goals and conceding just four in those games. They haven’t faced any of the bigger sides yet though, so this game will be a first real test for this season’s Hornets roster. Connor Hutchison already has four goals this season for the Berkshire side, while Danny Hughes has three and the Ealey-Newman brother Ben and Josh have two apiece.
Oxford are also unbeaten so far, winning five games from five. After a huge 14-2 win over Swindon two weekends ago, they would have hoped to dispatch Haringey in a similar manner last weekend; but were frustrated by the North London side, who battled hard defensively and only conceded four goals as Oxford came out 4-1 winners. The City Stars will hope to find their scoring tough again this weekend, but it won’t be easy against a stable Hornets side which is largely unchanged from last season.
A fascinating game this one – somebody’s 0 has got to go, but whose will it be? The reigning league champions, or the side that beat them twice last season? It’s early, but this game could go some way towards deciding the destination of the league title – so the whole league will be watching very closely.
Cardiff Fire vs Bracknell Hornets
The Fire and the Hornets both play for the second time this weekend on Sunday, with Bracknell travelling to Ice Arena Wales for a 6pm faceoff.
Cardiff will hope to have taken their first win of the season the previous evening in Kent; but if not, this will provide them another chance to do so. The Fire are usually strong at home, especially against opponents for whom a trip to South Wales on a Sunday is a bit of a trek. The Fire will hope to take advantage of this and score what would be an upset victory over the Hornets here.
After the previous night’s huge game against Oxford, the Hornets will either look to continue their winning streak this season, or recover from a defeat. Either way, they need to ensure they don’t lose focus and that they travel to Cardiff ready to battle hard against a Fire side that would love to take a big win against them to kickstart their own season.
On paper, the Hornets should have enough to win this one – but as we all know, hockey is played on ice, and the Hornets will need to be focused and sharp in order to take the win here.
Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Bristol Pitbulls
Swindon play their second local derby of a young NIHL2 league season on Saturday, as they welcome Bristol to the Link Centre.
Swindon’s first game of the season was a derby that they lost heavily to Oxford by a score of 14-2; the fixtures didn’t get any kinder last weekend as they went down 1-4 to Bracknell and 2-10 to Solent, the other members of the league’s “big three”. Now they have got those three games out the way, they will hope to take something from this game against a Pitbulls side containing former Wildcats Adam Coakley and Nathan Chilcott. To do that, the Wildcats will need to score some goals; they only have five so far, albeit against three of the stronger teams in the league. Eliot Randall is the only player to have scored twice so far for the club this season.
Bristol’s season has gone well so far; they sit in third place with seven points from five games, having lost just once in regulation so far – and that was an expected defeat against Oxford. Apart from that, they have dispatched Haringey, Romford and Invicta before taking a point from Peterborough last weekend after a tough overtime defeat. Olly Shone scored a brace for the Pitbulls in that game and Ross Miller stopped 28 of 32 shots, but it wasn’t enough to take both points. The Pitbulls will hope to bounce back this weekend and take the full quota of points against the Wildcats.
This game will be the first time we will be able to see what the Wildcats have got against an opponent that they have a realistic chance of getting a result against, while Bristol will hope to extend their good start to the season. Expect an intense game here.
Basingstoke Buffalo vs Guildford Phoenix
Two teams with win-loss records of 1-2 meet in Basingstoke on Sunday, as the Buffalo host the Phoenix.
The similarities don’t end there; both sides started their season with a road win against more fancied opposition (Guildford in Peterborough and Basingstoke in Cardiff), before going on to lose their two games since. Both sides are therefore desperate to get back to winning ways here.
To be fair to Basingstoke, their two opponents since knocking off Cardiff have been Bracknell and Chelmsford – extremely tough opponents for the smaller sides in the division. And so it proved with Bracknell winning 6-2 and Chelmsford taking a big 14-1 victory. And while Guildford are a strong side, the Buffalo will be thankful to be playing a side that they can at least hope to get a positive result against. The Buffalo’s best performer so far this season has probably been netminder Aaron Burton, who has maintained a save percentage of 85% despite conceding 14 goals against a rampant Chelmsford in their last game.
Guildford followed up their opening win in Peterborough with two defeats, losing 6-2 against the aforementioned Chelmsford and then frustratingly being beaten 3-2 away to Haringey last time out. David Wride stopped 33 of 35 shots in that game to secure the win for the Huskies, with Nick Minhinnick scoring both goals for the Phoenix. One cause for concern for the Phoenix is their lack of scoring; last season’s “big three” of Bailey Wootton, Josh Abbott and Andy Hemmings haven’t quite hit top form yet, while only five other players have scored at least one point, and only one solitary assist has come from the blueline.
An intriguing game this and another tough one to call – Guildford should have enough firepower to get over the line, but if they don’t hit top form then the Buffalo can definitely get a result out of this game.
Chelmsford Chieftains vs Haringey Huskies
Haringey do the “Essex double” this weekend, following up a trip to Romford on Saturday with a game at the Riverside on Sunday against an unbeaten Chelmsford.
The Chieftains have taken advantage of their home game-heavy early season schedule to take six wins out of six, putting themselves at the top of the table. Ross Brears has 35 points from six games(!) while James Ayling isn’t far behind with 24 points. Their only away game so far has actually come against Haringey, as they won 9-3 at Alexandra Palace in a game that, as already mentioned, saw a total of 112 penalty minutes handed out.
Chelmsford have already taken a total of 205 penalty minutes this season, putting them second in the league behind… Sunday’s opponents Haringey, who have taken 220. So don’t expect a calm friendly encounter here!
Haringey will hope to give a better account of themselves as they did in the 9-3 defeat earlier this season, but it will be tough against a Chieftains side who look on red-hot form at the moment. If the Huskies want to get anything from this game, they will once again rely on veteran netminder David Wride who is having a fantastic season to date – his save percentage of 88.29% on a side that has only won one out of five games underlines his importance to them.
Chelmsford should continue their winning streak here, especially with Haringey coming off what is likely to be an intense game in Romford the previous night. But if Wride has another sensational game between the pipes – you never know what result the Huskies may be able to achieve.
We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games as we get the information and we’ll also be live tweeting from that big clash between Bracknell and Oxford at the Hive. Going to a game? We’d love to know what’s happening – tweet us @482days with your updates!
Looking for info on the NIHL1 South games? You can find the NIHL1 South preview HERE.
17:00 Solent Devils vs Lee Valley Lions
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Cardiff Fire
17:15 Raiders NIHL2 vs Haringey Huskies
17:45 Slough Jets vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms
18:00 Bracknell Hornets vs Oxford City Stars
18:00 Cardiff Fire vs Bracknell Hornets
18:15 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Bristol Pitbulls
18:15 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Guildford Phoenix
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Haringey Huskies
NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings