It’s a busy weekend across NIHL1 South as all the teams are in actions – and everyone bar Cardiff has a double header! The action is concentrated on the league but we also have the second leg of a cup semi-final to look at as well.
No Autumn Cup action – but last night did see an exciting finish to the semi-final between Peterborough and Swindon. After 120 minutes of regulation and 5 minutes of OT, we still couldn’t separate the teams and Swindon finally won out in the penalty shoot-out. They will face either Basingstoke or Hull in the final – but they won’t know who until next month (making the ‘Autumn’ Cup name seem even more silly!).
With every team in action this weekend and 7 of the teams having double-headers in the league, we could well see some shuffling of the table before the end of the weekend.
At the top, Peterborough and Swindon are locked into a fight for top spot, equal on points, equal in the points and goals between them, equal on goal difference – the table currently goes down to the 5th qualifier to separate them with Phantoms taking top spot on their higher total goals scored tally. Bison do have a game in hand though and will be trying to keep up the pressure and match results until they have a chance to play that one.
Phantoms arguably have the easier weekend, away to MK on Saturday, then hosting Invicta on Sunday. But the ex-EPL teams have learned not to take the NIHL-classic teams lightly any more with all of them having been stung at least once now. Both MK and Invicta have been struggling for form recently – but both also have a habit of stepping up against the bigger teams and playing their best hockey against them.
For Bison, a home-home double-header with 3rd placed Swindon awaits them. Swindon are at the front of the chasing pack and although currently 6 points behind, do have games in hand over both of the top 2. They can’t take 2nd place this weekend, but 4 points would see them right back in the title challenge again.
4th place Bees travel to London on Saturday for a tricky tie. The sides have met twice already this season in October and both games were tight with Bees taking both wins in regulation but only by a goal or two each time. Since then, London have been have been putting together some good form with 8 wins from 11 league games, while Bracknell haven’t won in the league since early November. London will be very unhappy with the manner of their exit from the cup when they were fairly comprehensively thrashed by Swindon in the quarter final (14-2 on aggregate) last weekend and will be looking at this to get their season back on track. A London win in regulation would see them take 4th place from Bracknell (and still hold a game in hand over the Berkshire club). Bees have had first line forward Shaun Thompson back in the line up after a long injury which is a huge bonus for them though – and if he is now fully fit and able to play a full game that could be a game changer. This should be one hell of a game.
Bees second game is a home tie against MK. The sides have also met twice so far with Bees taking all the points, but again both games were early in the season and with the classic NIHL1 teams starting to get used to the higher pace and standards now, this could also be a tough game for Bracknell.
Saturday also sees a battle at the bottom as Cardiff travel to Invicta. The Mos have been struggling a bit this season – although they do have the scalps of both Bees and Wildcats in the bag. They also have two wins already against Cardiff and will be targetting this game as a chance to get a much needed home win for their fans. Cardiff will also be looking at this game as a chance for them to finally get their season fully started though. It will depend if they have any of their injured players back though and whether they can bring enough lines to skate hard against the Mos for the full sixty minutes. If their young star netminder Jordan Lawday is on form again, they could frustrate the Mos and then hit them on the break.
Finally we have a London derby on Sunday as Streatham host London. It will already be the 7th meeting between the teams this season. Streatham dominated in the cup, winnning all four of those games, but the league action has been somewhat different with Raiders taking 2 regulation wins at home (4-2 and 3-2). Games between these two old rivals are almost always tense affairs and with no more than a 2 goal difference between them so far this season, the margin for error for these teams is slim. If either team isn’t on top form, it will cost them
National Cup action
Our sole cup QF game is the second leg of the match up between Streatham and Telford and sees the Redhawks travel North of Birmingham for a competitive fixture for the first time this century! They face an uphill battle though as Telford took the first leg 5-2. Teams have come back from bigger deficits – but it will be a tough ask against the former EPL team who strengthened again last week with the addition of Filip Supa (last seen tearing up NIHL2 South with Chelmsford before being inexplicably released).
17:30 London Raiders vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
17:30 Telford Tigers vs Streatham IHC (National Cup SF)
18:00 Invicta Dynamos vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
19:00 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
17:30 Peterborough Phantoms vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs London Raiders (NIHL1)
482days will have live twitter updates from Invicta on Saturday and we might take a look at Bracknell’s live stream on Sunday. If you want to come and say ‘hi’ or would like a pin badge, just look for the bright yellow laptop! 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