It’s a pretty quiet week for the NIHL1 South teams this weekend with just one league game, 3 National Cup quarter-final games and one Autumn Cup semi-final to be played.
Our sole league game sees Cardiff host Milton Keynes on Sunday. Cardiff are still struggling to find that first win in the league this season as they have struggled to adapt to the pace in the new NIHL1 which is a lot tougher than last season (not to mention being an absolutely huge step up from NIHL2 where Fire played last season). Matters haven’t been helped by the number of key players who are out injured, including Nick Chinn, Sam Smith and Brad Watchorn who have all been out for at least 2 months. All credit to the players and staff though – the one thing I haven’t heard out of the Cardiff camp is negativity! In fact, it has to be said that there is far less whinging coming from Wales than from some of the other NIHL1 South clubs!
MK started the season well but have also struggled to find a win since they last played Fire in November. They are picked up a couple of points from OT losses against Streatham and Basingstoke but they will be going to Wales looking for a third win against the Fire to try and get them back on track. Fire though will also be looking at this game as one of those where they could get something from it – the last meeting between the sides was a 4-2 final score and Fire were at 2-2 going into the final period. If Fire can get their nose in front here they could cause an upset.
National Cup action
In a bizarre turn of events, Hull became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals last weekend despite not having played all of their group games yet. They won Group B with 2 games to spare and have already played their quarter final against Blackburn. Their game against Peterborough has been deemed void as the clubs were not able to find a time to play it (with no points being awarded to either team) and their final group round game is this evening (Friday) against Sheffield. If Sheffield win, they will go through to play Solway, otherwise Peterborough will go through. And given that Hull will need to play 3 games in 3 days (with a double header against Whitley in the league this weekend), you have to wonder how strong a team they will send to an away game that is meaningless to them!
With all other group matches now complete, we turn our eye to the quarter finals of the competition. In the Southern section of the draw that sees Swindon face off against London and Streatham take on Telford.
Swindon and London will play both of their quarter-final legs this weekend with the Wildcats choosing to take their usual Saturday ice for their home game. The teams have met twice so far in the league with Swindon taking both wins in regulation, But the second of those games, played in Swindon was a close run affair with just a single goal deciding the result at 3-2. London have had a good run of form since then with only one loss since the start of December which has seen them climb to 5th in the league and just one point behind Bracknell with a game in hand. They are a team which is brimming with confidence at the moment, and though Wildcats will go into these games as the favourite, this could be a tricky tie for them, especially if they don’t take a strong lead in the first game.
Streatham and Telford will play the first leg of their quarter-finals on Sunday in South London. These teams haven’t met since the 1989-90 season when both played in the old BD1 league – so before all but a handful of players who will be lacing them up now were even born. The Tigers currently sit in second place in their league and as the ex-EPL team will be going into this series as the favourites. But like London, Streatham have had a good run of form recently and will be looking turn over the form books.
Autumn Cup action
Thursday sees the second leg of the Autumn Cup semi-final between Peterborough and Swindon. The first leg, played in Swindon finished with honours even at 3-3 so the permutations are quite simple in this leg – the winner makes the final. In the event of a tie at the end of regulation, usual OT rules will apply.
Phantoms will be pleased to have come away from their away leg with a draw and will likely fancy taking this at home. But Swindon won’t be giving up easily and this could be a real humdinger of a game. There will likely be a live stream of this game and if so, we’ll certainly be tuning in.
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs London Raiders (National Cup QF)
18:30 Cardiff Fire vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
17:30 London Raiders vs Swindon Wildcats (National Cup QF)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs Telford Tigers (Natonal Cup QF)
19:45 Peterborough Phantoms vs Swindon Wildcats (Autumn Cup SF)
482days will have twitter updates from the live stream of Cardiff vs MK on Saturday as well as the usual #gamedaylive round up of all the scores and scorers as we get them. Sunday sees us taking the evening off completely, so no twitter although we’ll try and get the final scores, tables and #piamg result out at some point after the games are all done. 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.
NIHL1 Britton League