The NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) season continues with six games this weekend – three each on Saturday and Sunday.
The Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats will be the 15th and final team to enter the fray this weekend, playing their first game of the season as they travel to reigning league champions Oxford on Sunday for a local derby.
Bristol Pitbulls vs Invicta Mustangs
Fresh off a victory over the Raiders last Saturday in Romford, the Bristol Pitbulls welcome the Invicta Mustangs to Oxpens Road.
The Mustangs were heavily beaten 13-2 in Solent by the Devils last weekend and come into this game with two defeats from two matches. They have managed five goals in those two games while conceding 19 – although it must be said that the Devils are a very tough opponent to travel to. The two Mustangs goals against Solent came through Bradley Gutridge and Jake Stedman.
The Pitbulls have beaten Haringey and the Raiders, while losing to fellow rink tenants Oxford, putting them on four points from three games. The hero in their 4-3 win in Romford was forward Olly Shone, who scored the winning goal with just 11(!) seconds remaining in the game. Other goalscorers in that win were Steve Osman (x2) and Jordan Jefferies.
This will be another tough game for the Mustangs as they travel to a Pitbulls side that will be buoyed by last weekend’s late victory. A Bristol victory would seem to be the most likely result here.
Haringey Huskies vs Guildford Phoenix
A winless Haringey side welcome Guildford to Alexandra Palace in what should be an interesting tussle.
The Huskies have had a very frustrating start to the season, losing all three games they have played to date. Their 4-3 opening loss to Bristol was extremely tight, while both Chelmsford and Bracknell proved to be too strong for the Huskies as expected. One positive in the 6-1 defeat to Bracknell was a first Haringey goal for import Gheorghe Dragomir.
The Phoenix defeated Peterborough 5-2 on opening weekend, before falling to a 6-2 defeat in Chelmsford a week later – so their early form is hard to read. Their headline forward trio of Bailey Wootton, Andrew Hemmings and Josh Abbott have combined for 13 points in those two games, but there has been barely any scoring from anyone else – the Phoenix will need better secondary scoring if they want to break into the top four this season. Although it is of course very early days.
On paper, the Phoenix should edge this one against a Huskies side still finding their feet. However if Haringey can shut down the Phoenix’ top trio, then they could definitely be in contention for a victory.
Slough Jets vs Lee Valley Lions
Two winless sides face off in Slough as the Jets host the Lions – however both sides have had differing fortunes this season so far despite their identical points tallies.
The Jets started their season off with a tough road trip to league champions Oxford, going down 2-8. But last weekend they put in a very impressive performance in Chelmsford against the Chieftains, losing by the odd goal in 13. New signing Sean Norris – the 19-year-old played the last two seasons in the Czech junior leagues – made an immediate impression against the Chieftains with 2+1=3, while Timo Lindgren also bagged a brace. The other Jets goals came through Lukas Smital and Danny Rose.
The Lions are very much a team in transition, with only five players (one netminder, two defencemen and two forwards) remaining from last season’s roster, and a new coach too as veteran defenceman James Joseph steps into a player-coach role. And it has been very tough so far: the Lions lost 14-1 in Chelmsford three weeks ago before going down 17-2 to Peterborough on home ice six days later. After a weekend off, they travel to Slough hoping to improve their fortunes and get something from the game.
With Slough going down to such a tight defeat in Chelmsford and the Lions being heavily beaten there, the formbook would suggest a Jets win here. The Lions may hand debuts to Czech forward Tomas Hnilica and EIHA-trained, Canadian-born, defenceman Yasin Sridhar in this game though – and the East London side will hope that those two players can add more quality to the side and help them to a positive result.
Basingstoke Buffalo vs Bracknell Hornets
Two sides that have won their solitary game of the season so far face off on Sunday, as the Hornets travel to Basingstoke to take on the Buffalo.
The Buffalo won somewhat surprisingly on the road in Cardiff last Sunday, as a Liam Coleman hat-trick led the Hampshire side to victory. Former Basingstoke junior Coleman played the last two seasons in Canada with the Essa Stallions and was a late addition to the Buffalo squad on the eve of the season. The other goal in the game in Cardiff came through veteran Mark Austen, while netminder Aaron Burton stopped 38 Cardiff shots in his first game for the club.
The Hornets comfortably saw off Haringey 6-1 at the Hive in their season opener last Saturday, with Connor Hutchison and Danny Hughes each scoring a brace and further goals coming from Daniel Clayton and Ben Ealey-Newman. James Richardson stopped 22 of 23 Huskies shots in goal, while the Hornets put 44 shots on the Haringey net. The Hornets are a similar side to last season’s third place squad, and will see games against the more traditional NIHL2 sides such as the Buffalo as games that they expect to win.
The Buffalo could be a tricky opponent for the Hornets if Coleman fires again and Burton has another strong game in net, but if the Hornets play to their strengths they should win this one.
Oxford City Stars vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
Four weeks into the season, the NIHL2 Wildcats finally play their first game of the campaign – and it couldn’t get much tougher, as they play against league champions Oxford.
The City Stars have started this season perfectly too, winning three from three as they have dispatched Slough 8-2, Bristol 7-1 and Peterborough by a closer score of 6-4. The standout forward statistically so far for Oxford has been Conor Redmond who has registered one goal and eight assists for nine points, with Joe Edwards (seven), Lee Richardson (six), Matt Lawday and Michal Oravec (both five) also chipping in with good points totals.
As always, precious little is known about the NIHL2 Wildcats lineup before the first game of the season. We know that Daniel Sullivan stays on as player-coach, while we also know they have lost forward Loris Taylor (to the senior Wildcats side) as well as duo Nathan Chilcott and Adam Coakley to the Bristol Pitbulls.
Whoever the Wildcats end up fielding in their lineup on Sunday, you wouldn’t put money on them beating the City Stars, with the reigning champions likely to extend their record on the season to four wins out of four.
Chelmsford Chieftains vs Raiders NIHL2
The Riverside in Chelmsford plays host to a good old Essex derby on Sunday evening, with the NIHL2 Raiders in town to face the Chieftains.
Raiders vs Chieftains battles of old used to be heated affairs, and while it is the second string Raiders side who visit Chelmsford on Sunday, it is still likely to be an intense affair.
The home side are unbeaten this season so far, winning four out of four and topping the table. Forwards Ross Brears (8+14=22), James Ayling (7+9=16), Courtney Grant (8+3=11) and Bradley Moore (6+4=10) have all put up imperious numbers so far this campaign, with Ayling scoring the game winner in last Sunday’s thrilling 7-6 win over Slough.
The Raiders have played two games, beating Invicta 6-3 on the road before suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat at home to Bristol last weekend – conceding the winning goal with just 11 seconds left in the game. Highly-rated goaltender Brad Windebank has impressed so far, as has another much-talked-about youngster in Tommy Huggett, who bagged a goal and an assist vs Bristol. The other Raiders goals in that game came from Matt Brown and Kamil Kinkor.
The Chieftains have started the season well and have four forwards on red hot form – but Slough showed last Sunday that the Chelmsford back line is definitely not impregnable. And with the likes of Huggett, Brown and Kinkor – as well as other proven scorers like Sam Roberts and Alan Lack – the Raiders will feel they stand a good chance of inflicting defeat on the Chieftains in this one.
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 South games? You can find the NIHL1 South preview HERE.
17:00 Bristol Pitbulls vs Invicta Mustangs
17:30 Haringey Huskies vs Guildford Phoenix
17:45 Lee Valley Lions vs Slough Jets
18:15 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Bracknell Hornets
18:15 Oxford City Stars vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Raiders NIHL2
NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings