Well what a weekend we had last week. Our first two overtime periods (both involving Swindon!) and some cracking games across the competitions.
This week we have 9 games across all three competitions in NIHL1 as the Autumn cup also kicks off: 4 league games, 4 cup games and 1 Autumn cup game.
Milton Keynes travel to Cardiff on the Saturday. Both teams had a tough weekend, picking up just one point across 4 games between them. MK will be the favourites here having taken highly fancied Swindon to overtime last Saturday. Cardiff’s season got off to a flyer with a goal against Invicta after just 23 seconds. Unfortunately, it then took nearly 97 minutes to score again and they recorded 2 losses last weekend. The 9-2 scoreline against Streatham should be taken with a pinch of salt though as they understandably came out slowly in the first period after getting just 6 minutes of warm-up after a nightmare 6 hours on the bus to get there. 17 year old netminder Lewis Davies was given his senior debut in nets and while he looked a little overwhelmed (and probably suffering from the travel as well) in the first, he improved visibly after that and let in just 3 of the 40 shots against him in the final 2 periods. He is definitely one to watch for the future and should get lots of ice time across the 2 Fire teams.
Also on Saturday, Streatham will travel to fens to take on Peterborough. Both teams are one for one in the league so far and will be looking to keep their 100% record. Peterborough, as one of the favourites for the league title will be the fancied team here, especially at home, but Streatham will be buoyed up with the winning start to their season in both the cup and the league and showed on Sunday that they have some serious speed and firepower in the team.
Sunday sees Fire in league action again as they travel to Bracknell for a game against the Bees. The Berkshire team had a tough weekend as well last week with narrow losses to Peterborough and Basingstoke in the league and will be looking to bounce back with a win. Bees duo of Frankie Bakrlik and Shaun Thompson have proven to be a dangerous pairing, with one of them involved in all but 2 of Bracknell’s 17 goals so far this season (and getting points in more than half of them). Cardiff’s top priority will be trying to shut them down if they want even half a chance.
Our final league game features the closest thing Peterborough and Milton Keynes have to a derby game this season. Phantoms are 100% in the league at the moment after the win against Bracknell on Saturday and will be looking to keep that intact. But they will be disappointed after their 6-3 loss to Hull in the cup and will want to bounce back. Thunder have shown that they are not to be taken lightly this season, after a narrow loss to the Bees in the opening weekend and then an even narrower loss to Swindon which went all the way to penalty shots. They currently sit 3rd in the league with a win against early league leaders Invicta to add to their OT loss and will be looking to build on that.
National Cup action
Invicta travel to London on Saturday, after their mid-week blow that team captain and last weekends OT hero, Bobby Chamberlain, is returning home to Hull. Mos’ long-time defenceman Arran Strawson steps up to the captaincy but the loss of Chamberlain will be a tough one for the Kent side as they were already light on players, and especially on players with experience. It leaves the Dynamos with less than 3 lines, even when everyone is fully fit and Kevin Parrish will be on the lookout to find a replacement quickly. London meanwhile had a mixed weekend: losing the London derby to Streatham in the cup on Saturday, but bouncing back with a league win against MK on the Sunday. London will be happy with the win, but coaching duo Blyth and Easton will not be happy with the way they nearly blew a 5-goal lead, allowing MK back from 6-1 to 6-5 before scoring again themselves.
On Saturday, Swindon will host Basingstoke before travelling to Telford on Sunday for a Northern section crossover game. Basingstoke got their first cup points last weekend, by beating Bracknell in a low-scoring 2-1 game but lost both home and away fixtures to Telford before that. Swindon come into that game off the back of two overtime games in the league last weekend, they will know that they need to increase their scoring efficiency if they are going to get anything out of this game. I don’t want to take anything away from Annetts or Dibble fro their performances in net, but Aaron Nell will know that only 5 goals from over 100 shots on net means something isn’t quite right. Both Basingstoke and Telford should prove to be tough opponents for the Wildcats.
Our final fixture this weekend in the National cup sees a reverse of the London derby from last weekend as London travel south of the river to Streatham. Last Saturday, these two teams met at Lee Valley with the visiting Redhawks coming away as 5-3 victors. From all accounts the game was fairly even with the final margin doubled through an empty-netter. Streatham will be pleased that all of their goals came from different players showing a strength in depth. For London, young Jake Sylvester showed why he was is so highly rated, scoring 2 of the Raiders’ three. This should be another barnstorming game.
Autumn Cup action
The Autumn cup is an additional competition which only 6 of the ex-EPL teams have chosen to join this season. The two groups of three will play each other once each home and away with all games due to be completed by mid November. Top two from each group will go through to the semi-finals which, along with the 2-legged final, will be scheduled as mid-week games. This week sees Sheffield Steeldogs travel down to Basingstoke.
So far Sheffield have had a fairly solid start to their season, picking up 5 points in the league with wins against Solihull and Blackburn but and an overtime (penalty shots) loss to Telford. Basingstoke will want to come out firing though as so far their cup form has been less than stellar in the National cup competition and if they want to make a semi-final this season they are going to need to improve that.
17:30 London Raiders vs Invicta Dynamos (NIHL1 Cup)
18:15 Swindon Wildcats vs Basingstoke Bison (NIHL1 Cup)
18:30 Cardiff Fire vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
17:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Sheffield Steeldogs (NIHL1 Autumn Cup)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:00 Telford Tigers vs Swindon Wildcats (NIHL1 Cup)
18:30 Milton Keynes Thunder vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
18:45 Streatham IHC vs London Raiders (NIHL1 Cup)
482days will have live twitter updates from Cardiff on Saturday and Basingstoke 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 weekend preview HERE where our NIHL2 correspondents Laurence Thorn and Don McDermott will take a look at the action in that league.