We’ve got 6 games to look at this weekend, 4 in the league, 1 in the National cup and 1 in the Autumn Cup. Plus a look ahead to a rare midweek fixture in the National Cup.
Saturday sees the top two in the league face off against each other as Swindon travel to the fens to take on Peterborough. Peterborough will stay top of the league this weekend, regardless, but a Swindon win would see them brought back to within a point or less of the chasing pack. Both teams are coming into the game with an 8-game winning streak in all competitions and it could be a doozy of a game finding out which team can take the streak to 9. The teams have yet to meet in a competitive fixture, but did play a pre-season 2-game challenge series. Phantoms won both, but Swindon will be keen to overturn that result by taking the points when it matters.
London and Bracknell face each other for the first time this season on Saturday in Lee Valley. Bracknell have had a strong start to their league season with five wins from six so far and only dropping points to Peterborough so far. Bees’ top line pairing of Thompson and Bakrlik are still firing on all cylinders with over 3 points a game each in league play and secondary scoring from the likes of Norcliffe and Best is also starting to come through. London are currently sitting on 500 hockey in the league with wins against MK and Cardiff and losses to Basingstoke and Swindon. Surprisingly, Huska has been relatively quiet in the league, with just one goal to his name so far (although he’s over a goal game in the cup) and he’ll want to show he can score freely against a big four side as well. Bracknell undoubtedly go into this game as favourites, but I have a sneaking suspicion that London could pull a surprise and get something out of this.
Bracknell then host Invicta on Sunday in what is again a first meeting between the sides. Invicta grabbed their second OT win of the season last week in a low-scoring thriller against MK, having equalised with less than 3 minutes left in regulation and will be buoyed up both by that victory and in welcoming Ashley Jackson back to the team. Based on my twitter feed immediately after his release from Basingstoke and then a few hours later when his return was confirmed, he’ll be welcomed back with open arms by the Mos’ fans – and with good reason! Jackson and Rehaks’ partnership last season was one of the best in the league and both seem to bring out the best in each other. Add in the likely return to the team for Callum Fowler after a weekend away and I suspect Bees will find this a tougher fixture than the form book would suggest.
The final league game sees Streatham host Basingstoke in South London. Basingstoke have yet to drop a point in league play, although this hasn’t stopped coach Doug Sheppard from tinkering with his team again this week: releasing Ashley Jackson, who scored against Streatham in last weekends 5-2 home win. Streatham will be without their first choice netminder for this weekend as Colclough received a match penalty for fighting against Peterborough on Sunday and is ruled out for both their fixtures this weekend (plus next Saturday’s clash against MK). This could be a tough game for the Redhawks.
National Cup action
Saturday sees Invicta host Streatham for the first meeting between these two old rivals this season. Streatham currently sit at the top of the cup group with 3 wins from 3 over local rivals London while Mos are looking for their first cup points having lost both of their games against the Raiders. I wouldn’t take this as too much of a form guide though as Invicta-Streatham games are rarely predictable! As mentioned above, Streatham will be without the services of NM Colclough and will also be missing Jordan Gregory who will serve the second of his 2-match ban. Perhaps more worryingly have failed to score more than 2 goals in a game this month so far in their 5 back to back losses, a surprising statistic for me given the firepower they have in the team. Invicta meanwhile broke their own 5 game losing streak on Sunday with that OT win away at MK and will be looking to push on again in this game and grab a first home win since their other OT thriller against Swindon. These two teams have built up a great rivalry across the seasons, trading wins and losses on a regular basis in the last few years. This should be another great game, but one I think Invicta will take.
We also have a rare midweek game to look ahead to as Telford travel to Swindon for a 7:45pm face off on Wednesday. This will be the 4th game between these sides already, having already met once in this competition as well as twice in the Autumn cup last weekend. Swindon have taken all the points on offer so far and have limited Telford to just one goal in each game, so they will likely go into this as the favourites.
Autumn Cup action
Hull make the long trek to Swindon on Sunday for our only Autumn cup game this weekend. Swindon currently top the group following their back to back win against Telford this weekend. Pirates, have had a mixed bag of results so far – they have beaten ex-EPL opponents like Peterborough and Sheffield but have had their scalps taken by old-NIHL1 North teams with league losses to Solihull (twice, both in OT) and Blackburn. Hull have gone with a no-import roster this season and have focused mainly on local talent, with about half of the squad having played in the Kingston junior system at some point. Of course, when this includes ex-GB senior players like Matty Davies and Jason Hewitt and a plethora of players who have played GB at U20 level, that’s still a pretty good team!
Hull start their Autumn cup campaign on Saturday with a game against Telford, if they win that game Swindon will go into Sunday’s game knowing they have already qualified for the semi-final stage and Hull will know that a win will also put them through and Telford out.
17:30 London Raiders vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
18:00 Invicta Dynamos vs Streatham IHC (NIHL National Cup)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Hull Pirates (Autumn Cup)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1)
19:45 Swindon Wildcats vs Telford Tigers (NIHL National Cup)
482days will have live twitter updates from Peterborough on Saturday. Sunday we are having a night off, but we’ll still have updates from all the games across the South. We’re also toying with the idea of attending Swindon’s midweek cup game on Wednesday. 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
NIHL National Cup Group C
NIHL1 National Cup Group D
NIHL1 Autumn Cup Group 2