NIHL2 Weekend Preview: 16/17 December

Last weekend was a poor one for Peterborough: the Phantoms lost their fourth game of the season as they went down 1-7 at home to Chelmsford. This weekend, however, they have an immediate opportunity for revenge – they travel to the Riverside to take on the Chieftains on Sunday.

There are three other games on Sunday, as fellow title contenders Oxford and Bracknell are in action against Lee Valley and Basingstoke respectively, and Swindon play host to the Invicta Mustangs.

There is just one game on Saturday, with Invicta entertaining the Slough Jets.


Invicta Mustangs vs Slough Jets

Slough Jets will aim to continue their climb up the table in Saturday’s lone game as they make the trip to Kent to play Invicta Mustangs.

Invicta (3 wins/10 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) sit in 12th place but are five points ahead of Lee Valley in 13th and just three points behind Cardiff 2 in 8th, so a chance to pick up some places in the table is still there for the Mustangs with plenty of games left to play. And after losing five of their last six, with only a win over Lee Valley securing any points, there is good news on the horizon as their next two games are at least somewhat winnable. After hosting Slough at home this weekend, Invicta will travel to winless Swindon, who they beat earlier this season.

Slough (5 wins/9 losses, 10 points) started the season looking like prime contenders for the wooden spoon, losing their first six games. But their close losses to Bristol and Guildford were obviously a sign of things to come.  The Jets have won five of their last eight and have surged away from the bottom of the table up to 9th place. Yes, the Jets have played more games (14) than any other club in South 2, but last Saturday’s 8-4 thrashing of Haringey surely proves that Slough are legit. Captain Liam Underdown continued his fine season, scoring a hat-trick against the Huskies. He now has 12 goals in 12 games, and has compiled 23 points.

For Saturday, Invicta will need to put last weekend’s 6-0 loss to Solent behind them and bring their A-game. Slough just need to ride the momentum of five wins from eight and the knowledge that they defeated Invicta earlier this season.

Don’s Prediction: Invicta 4-6 Slough
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 4-3 Slough (OT)


Chelmsford Chieftains vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms

Those who predicted a close game between these two last Saturday would have been left disappointed, as the Chieftains took a large 7-1 away win over the Phantoms. Ross Brears and defenceman Matt France each netted twice as the Essex side won their seventh game of the campaign, out of nine played.

Peterborough (9 wins/4 losses, 18 points) have now lost four games this season, with all four defeats coming in their last six encounters. Their early season form and momentum seems to have evaporated, which is a surprise given the talent in the team (even with the departure of Nathan Pollard). They will be absolutely desperate for a win here to try and get their derailed title challenge back on track – or at the very least, to try to help their chances of securing a top four spot.

Chelmsford (7 wins/2 losses, 14 points) were supposed to play twice last weekend, but after the win in Peterborough on Saturday, their planned home tie against Lee Valley on Sunday was called off due to the snow. The Chieftains should therefore be rested up and ready for the rematch against the Phantoms, which they will hope to win in their own barn. New import Michal Oravec scored two assists in last Saturday’s victory, and they will hope for more of the same from the experienced Slovakia native.

About a month ago, this game would have been expected to be close; but given Peterborough’s current form and the result of the game last weekend, we can expect a Chelmsford win in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 5-4 Peterborough
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 6-3 Peterborough

Oxford City Stars vs Lee Valley Lions

League leaders Oxford look imperious at the moment, having won 12 games and lost just one so far. On Sunday they face a side at the total opposite end of the spectrum, as the winless Lee Valley Lions come to town.

Oxford (12 wins/1 loss, 24 points) have dominated the league thus far; apart from a 9-6 defeat to Bracknell back in September, they have won every single game, and are currently on a ten game win streak. They have scored 10 or more goals four times, and kept shutouts in their last two games as well. Import forward Kamil Kinkor has 37 points in 13 games while Joe Edwards (29) and Josh Oliver (27) are also in the top ten of the league scoring charts.

Lee Valley (10 regulation losses/2 OT losses, 2 points) are still looking for their first win of the season, although recent results have been more favourable for the East London side; two of their last three defeats were only in overtime, meaning they now have two points to their name. However this game will be extremely tough for the Lions, and indeed the last time these teams met in Oxford, in February 2014, the Stars came away with a 10-1 victory.

A similar result is probably on the cards here. The Lions always give it their all, but the Stars will very likely have too much quality in this one.

Don’s Prediction: Oxford 11-3 Lee Valley
Laurence’s Prediction: Oxford 10-1 Lee Valley

Basingstoke Buffalo vs Bracknell Hornets

Bracknell return to the ice after three weeks without any action and visit a Basingstoke club trying to halt a three-game skid.

The Buffalo (4 wins/7 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 9 points) find themselves down in 11th place after last weekend’s 5-2 loss to the Bristol Pitbulls. Basingstoke and Bracknell have already met once this season back in early September, and the Buffalo were sent home with a 10-3 loss.

The Hornets (8 wins/1 loss, 16 points) have played just nine games so far this season, winning all but one of them, a 3-2 loss to Chelmsford. No team has played less games than Bracknell, and they have four games in hand on three of the sides above them, which explains why they sit in 5th despite having such a good record. But the Hornets have to keep an eye on Chelmsford, who have also played just nine games and sit right behind Bracknell in the table. That loss to the Chieftains last month will surely give Bracknell reason to approach games against the lower ranked teams with greater intent, as they can’t afford to slip up.

There have been a few upsets so far this season, such as Bristol beating Chelmsford, so Basingstoke can’t be counted out before the game is played. But Bracknell are once again heavy favourites.

Don’s Prediction: Basingstoke 4-9 Bracknell
Laurence’s Prediction: Basingstoke 3-7 Bracknell

Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Invicta Mustangs

Invicta are back in action on Sunday for their second game of the weekend, and this time they travel to Swindon to play the Wildcats.

Invicta may be coming in with some momentum if they can pick up a win over Slough on Saturday, but if the Jets prove to be the better side as the stats would seem to indicate, the Mustangs will have to quickly shake off the loss and be ready for a trip to the southwest. Invicta and Swindon have already met once this season, and the Mustangs will take confidence from the fact that they sneaked a narrow 5-4 win. And speaking of Swindon…

The truth is, we all have a Christmas present that we really want. For some it’s a puppy, for others it’s a Ps4. Some people just want @482days to mention them on Twitter. For Swindon (9 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 1 point)—fans, players and management alike—the special gift that they want is a win, and Sunday marks their last chance before the new year to pick up the elusive two points. They’ve have come close a few times, losing by one goal to Invicta, Basingstoke, Solent and Slough. But so far they have picked up just a solitary point for at least taking the Jets to OT.

So will Santa be nice and bring Swindon a win on Sunday? It’s hard to tell.  Invicta are the better side, but Swindon will have the crowd behind them and this will certainly be the best chance they’ve had this year.

Don’s Prediction: Swindon 6-5 Invicta (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Swindon 2-3 Invicta (OT)

Fixture information

17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Slough Jets

18:15 Oxford City Stars vs Lee Valley Lions
18:30 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Bracknell Hornets
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms
19:45 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Invicta Mustangs

NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings

We’ll have updates on scores and scorers from all the games 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 NIHL1 games? You can find the NIHL1 South weekend preview HERE.

482days Expert Prediction Competition (after week 12)

Don: 68pts
Laurence: 66pts

Our experts get 1 point for every correct result, and 3 points if they predict the exact score. (Although as they say: prediction is a mug’s game…)

December 15th, 2017 by