10 games across the NIHL1 South teams this weekend. 7 in the league, 2 in the National Cup and 1 in the Autumn Cup. Here’s 482days’ thoughts on them all.
Cardiff Fire travel to Bracknell on Saturday. The season has seen results start to improve, with the odd blip, but the Fire have yet to seriously challenge a team on the ice for the full 60 minutes. The last few away games have seen the old issue of low numbers at away games, taking only 12+2 to both Basingstoke last weekend and London two weeks before. It’s a tough league anyway and playing with a short bench just makes it so much harder. They started the season relatively well, but realistically need to get back to at least 3 lines away from home if they want to compete for the full game.
For Bracknell, import forward Bakrlik continues his imperious form and was a worthy winner of October’s NIHL1 South player of the month award. Shutting him down has to be the key for any team – of course that’s a lot easier said than done!
Cardiff will then host Streatham on Sunday. Streatham had a big 9-2 win against Fire at the start of the season – but Fire know that was hardly them at their best as they managed just 6 minutes of warm-up after 6 hours sat on their bus and promptly lost the first period 6-0 to effectively put the game to bed. This game will give them a chance to show that they have improved since the start of the season and could be a good gauge of that improvement.
Streatham will have been riding high on their success against Swindon last weekend – which saw them gain a dominant 5-1 win in front of an ecstatic home crowd. The first of the ‘classic-NIHL1’ teams to get a regulation win against one of the ‘old-EPL’ teams, they did it in style and will want to continue their climb in the table.
Saturday sees two more games of classic-NIHL1 pitted against old-EPL clubs as Milton Keynes travel to Basingstoke and London travel to Peterborough in a bid to replicate Streatham’s feat. For both MK and London this is probably a tougher task as Bison and Phantoms have both yet to drop a point in the league (although Peterborough did let Swindon take one home with them 2 weeks ago) and are the two clubs tipped to be in the final battle for league champion status at the end of the season. Add in that the two bigger clubs will have the home advantage and it will be a bit of a mountain for MK and London to climb – if not quite the foregone conclusion that some predicted every such game would be before the season started.
But at least one of Thunder or Raiders will be finishing the weekend with a win as the two meet in Lee Valley on Sunday. The teams last met in the second weekend of the season in MK in a high-scoring game that saw London shoot out to a 6-1 lead in second period but were then pegged back to 6-5 before a PP goal from JJ Pitchley sealed the deal for Raiders to give them a 7-5 win. These two teams are fairly well matched for me – both have impact players who can have moments of brilliance and both have hard-working players who will forecheck the heck out of you and force errors and turnovers. This should be a fantastic match.
Sunday also sees Bracknell travel to Invicta. Two weeks ago the sides met at the hive and the game went all the way to overtime before Frankie Bakrlik scored his 4th of the night to take the extra point in the 62nd minute. Dynamos will be hoping that influential import Adam Rehak is back in the squad after he missed last weekend for this game as his partnership with newly re-signed Ashley Jackson could be the difference for the Mos.
Our final NIHL1 South game seems Peterborough travel to Swindon. The two sides last met a fortnight ago when Leigh Jamieson scored a fast overtime goal in the 61st minute to win the game for the Phantoms. It was a tight, low scoring game with both young keepers putting on a great display and frustrating their opposition forwards. Peterborough have since extended their winning streak to 11 games, while Swindon have also lost to Streatham since then. While Peterborough may be going into this as favourites, this will not be an easy game for them and it should be an exciting game in front of a likely packed crowd.
National Cup action
Invicta travel to Streatham on Saturday in a do or die game for them in the cup. Anything other than a win will see them eliminated. For Streatham, a point is enough to see them safely through to the next round. These two teams have a long history of big games between them and anything can (and sometimes does) happen. They have met just the once so far this season, in a cup game two weeks ago, when Redhawks came away from Kent with a 5-2 win. Streatham will be flying high after their 3-point weekend last week and will be going into this brimming with confidence. It’s going to be one hell of a tall order for the Mos to qualify for the next round of the cup now – but they are not the sort of team to give up till it’s done. Don’t count on them rolling over.
Autumn Cup action
It’s the final game in Group 2 of the Autumn Cup as Swindon travel to Hull to battle for the honour of winning their group. With both teams already through to the second round of the competition, this is only about final placings now. But that is going to be winner takes all as the algorithms are fairly simple – whoever wins this game (however they do it) will also win the group. These teams met a fortnight ago in Swindon and they couldn’t be separated in regulation – with Max Birbraer finally winning the game for the Wildcats in OT. Back on home ground, Hull are going to want to at least reverse that result. Could go all the way this one.
17:30 Streatham IHC vs Invicta Dynamos (National Cup)
18:00 Bracknell Bees vs Cardiff Fire (NIHL1)
18:00 Hull Pirates vs Swindon Wildcats (Autumn Cup)
18:30 Basingstoke Bison vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
19:00 Peterborough Phantoms vs London Raiders (NIHL1)
17:15 NIHL1S Invicta Dynamos vs Bracknell Bees (NIHL1)
17:30 NIHL1S London Raiders vs Milton Keynes Thunder (NIHL1)
18:00 NIHL1S Cardiff Fire vs Streatham IHC (NIHL1)
18:00 NIHL1C-D Telford Tigers vs Basingstoke Bison (National Cup)
18:15 NIHL1S Swindon Wildcats vs Peterborough Phantoms (NIHL1)
482days will have live twitter updates from Streatham on Saturday and London 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
NIHL National Cup Group C
NIHL1 National Cup Group D
NIHL1 Autumn Cup Group 2