We’ve a big weekend in the national cup competition with 5 games across the 3 groups with NIHL South teams involved. The league is still ticking along as well – although it’s a quiet week with just 3 fixtures.
Last weekend certainly gave us some exciting action in the league. On Saturday, London Raiders had an impressive 6-3 away win against Peterborough – bringing the Phantoms’ 11 game winning streak to a close. This was made even more impressive by the way London picked themselves up after being pegged back from a 3-0 lead to 3-3 and pushing on to take the game. We even saw a penalty goal (rare as hens’ teeth) awarded at the end of the game.
Sunday saw two games go to OT and penalty shots and two others be decided by just one or two goals giving us the closest set of results in the league yet.
Here’s hoping for another weekend of action like that!
It’s a tough league double-header for Milton Keynes this weekend as they travel to Peterborough on Saturday and then host Basingstoke on Sunday. Milton Keynes are currently sitting mid-table in 5th place with 4 wins (one in OT) and crucially 3 OT losses. With only a few exceptions they have been there or thereabouts in all their games. However, against the ex-EPL teams they have yet to pick up more than a single point – an OT loss to Swindon; and they have lost by at least 3 goals in their games against Phantoms and Bison so far.
Basingstoke have yet to drop a point and have won all their league games so far in regulation. After a patchy start to the season with 4 losses in the national cup competition they made some changes to the squad and have really pushed on. They are currently sitting on a 10 game winning streak across all competitions and are definitely looking very strong at the moment in their hunt for silverware this season. Mind you I said the same about Peterborough last weekend and look what happened there! Basingstoke will definitely be looking to continue their pressure on the top two in the table. A win here will put them just 2 points behind Bracknell with 2 games in hand.
Peterborough, despite their loss last weekend, have clung on to their spot at the top of the table thanks to their win over tied-on-points Bracknell. With Bracknell not playing this weekend, a win here would give them a points gap once more at the top of the table. Phantoms are still my tip for overall league champions this season, but they have now shown themselves to be fallible. They will want to get back to winning ways again here.
Our third league game this weekend will be the first league meeting between local rivals London and Streatham. The sides have met three times in the cup so far, with Streatham getting the upper hand each time – but the results have been close with two games being decided by a single goal and the third by just two. London will be high on confidence after their 4-point weekend which lifted them up two places in the table. NM Euan King is clearly on the road to recovery as he was instrumental in their win against Phantoms, stopping 40 of the 43 shots on his net in his first game back, although after speaking to him on Sunday (when he did not dress), he is still a little way from being fully fit yet. Streatham will also be delighted to have had the match penalty against forward Jamie Hayes reviewed and downgraded to a game misconduct – meaning he will be available for this game.
National Cup action
It’s a cup heavy weekend in NIHL1 South – with 5 games to look at. We’ll start with the double-header between Bracknell and Telford. Both of these teams are fighting for one of the two qualification spots but are currently sitting just below. A double win for Telford would see them jump to second in the table, while two wins for Bracknell would see them leapfrog Telford into third and possibly second depending on the result between Wildcats and Bison. Bracknell will obviously be without their main threat Bakrlik, who was given a six-game suspension after the check to the head which left Invicta’s Mason Webster unconscious during the OT period on Sunday. Of course, for the Bees’ other players, this could be a great chance for them to show the rest of the NIHL that they are not a one-man team and to really step up and show what the rest of the team is made of.
Telford meanwhile are coming into this game off a truly dreadful run of form. With just one win in their last nine games which has seen them eliminated from the Autumn Cup and pushed out of the qualification spots in this competition and knocked off the top of the NIHL1 North league table. They have strengthened though, adding Scott McKenzie from Deeside last week and Adam Jones from a trial with EIHL Belfast Giants this week. GB International, Jonathan Weaver is also now eligible to return, although he missed last weekend as he was apparently still suffering concussion from the game that saw him banned back in September.
The two teams who are currently sitting in the QF qualification spots in group D will also face each other this weekend as Swindon travel to Basingstoke on Saturday. Swindon’s cup form has been perfect so far this season with 4 wins from their 4 games and that’s certainly the sort of form they will be looking to continue in this competition. Their league games have not been going quite so well with losses to Peterborough (twice) and Streatham in their last three games seeing them slide to 4th in the table and off the pace of the other ex-EPL sides.
Basingstoke have the opposite form. In the league they are the only unbeaten side left and while their cup form has improved with recent wins against Bracknell and Telford, they lost four of their first 5 games in the competition and are now in a position of needing to win most of their remaining games in order to move on to the quarter-finals.
Wildcats and Bison have met once so far this season, also in the cup, with the Wildcats taking the points in a 5-2 win. But Bison’s recent run of form sees them on a 10 game winning streak and their confidence will be high that they can reverse that result on Saturday.
In Group B, Sunday sees Peterborough travel to Hull. The Phantoms and Pirates have already met twice in the cup and both have a home win from it. Prior to last weekend, that loss to Hull was Peterborough’s only competitive defeat this season and they reversed that and more a few weeks later with a high-scoring 11-6 win on home ice. Phantoms recovered well from the league loss to London on Saturday by beating Swindon in regulation on Sunday. The Pirates meanwhile have struggled to put any kind of run of form together and will be disappointed with their current mid-table league position which sees them in 5th place, although they do have games in hand on the teams above them. Their all-brit and mostly-local squad is not one to be taken lightly though and this could be another competitive game.
Our final cup game is in Group C as Streatham travel to Invicta, where the qualifying teams have already been decided and only the order of the top two remains in doubt. While not quite a dead rubber, Invicta are already out of the competition and will have their focus primarily on getting as good a position as possible in the league. For Streatham, bragging rights of the top spot in the cup group are still in play and they will want to continue their excellent form in this competition which sees them on maximum points so far with 5 wins from 5. But having said all of that, don’t expect Invicta to roll over… the rivalry between these two sides goes back for years and there is nothing Mos fans would enjoy more than spoiling the Redhawks perfect cup form.
17:30 London Raiders vs Streatham (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Telford Tigers (National Cup)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Swindon Wildcats (National Cup)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
17:15 Invicta Dynamos vs Streatham IHC (National Cup)
17:30 Hull Pirates vs Peterborough Phantoms (National Cup)
18:00 Telford Tigers vs Bracknell Bees (National Cup)
18:30 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
482days will be checking out Bracknell’s live stream on Saturday will have live updates from there. We’re still considering our options for Sunday, but we may just have a weekend off travelling. 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
NIHL1 National Cup Group B
NIHL1 National Cup Group C
NIHL1 National Cup Group D