The big games keep on coming in NIHL South 2: last weekend saw Oxford and Chelmsford win big games against Peterborough and Guildford respectively; while this weekend sees those two sides square off for the first time this season, with the City Stars travelling to the Riverside on Sunday to square off against the Chieftains.
Saturday has three games on the schedule. A Lee Valley side still searching for their first win host the Cardiff Fire, Invicta welcome Guildford and Swindon travel to Slough’s temporary rink to take on the Jets.
There are just two games on Sunday. As well as the aforementioned game between Chelmsford and Oxford, the Peterborough Phantoms will look to turn their recent poor form around as they welcome the Basingstoke Buffalo.
Invicta Mustangs vs Guildford Phoenix
Invicta welcome some tough opponents to Kent on Saturday as Guildford come to town looking to bounce back from last week’s heavy loss.
Guildford (7 wins/1 OT loss/4 regulation losses, 15 points) have had a tough spell, dropping three out of their last four games with losses coming against the former South 1 sides Bracknell, Oxford City and last weekend, Chelmsford. On Sunday, the Phoenix found themselves down 2-0 to the Chieftains after five minutes and Chelmsford never looked back, adding another goal in the first period and then a goal in each of the remaining periods to take a 5-0 victory. Still, even with their recent string of poor results, Guildford remain in 5th place.
Invicta (2 wins/1 OT win/1 OT loss/8 regulation losses, 7 points) have moved up in the table to 11th, following last Saturday’s overtime win over the Lee Valley Lions. That win broke a three-game losing streak for the Mustangs, but it is surely concerning for them that they were taken to overtime by the winless Lions. That three-game losing streak, even more significantly, started with a 5-2 away loss to the Phoenix. This time, Invicta will have home support but they will have to work very hard for a win.
After an exhausting few weeks, Guildford will probably come out very strongly against Invicta, unless they struggle to recover from those gruelling matchups. If the Phoenix are not at their best, the Mustangs may be able to pull off the upset.
Don’s Prediction: Invicta 4-6 Guildford
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 2-5 Guildford
Lee Valley Lions vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire
The Lee Valley Lions welcome the Cardiff Fire to East London on Saturday in what could be an intriguing tie, and one that is very important for both sides.
The Lions (10 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 1 point) broke their point scoring duck last weekend with an overtime loss away at Invicta. Lee Valley showed great spirit to come back from 3-1 down and tie the game with just seven seconds left. However the next night against Bristol was another reminder of how tough the league is this season for a smaller side like the Lions, as they went down 11-1 at home to the Pitbulls. And after losing 7-1 away at Cardiff earlier in the season, they will be desperate to win this one – their final home game before Christmas.
The Fire (4 wins/4 losses, 8 points) currently sit mid-table on eight points and a 50% win/loss record. Cardiff NIHL teams have traditionally struggled on the road due to player absences, with the Fire having won one of four away from home so far this season. With the NIHL1 Fire playing at home on the same day as this game, the make-up of the travelling NIHL2 team could depend on how many players the NIHL1 Fire team need to call up.
This one is tough to call. If Cardiff bring a full-strength lineup and play the sort of quick, aggressive hockey we are used to from them, it could be a long night for the Lions. But Lee Valley will be desperate to put a “1” in the win column ahead of Christmas so will do all they can to win. This one should be good.
Don’s Prediction: Lee Valley 6-7 Cardiff
Laurence’s Prediction: Lee Valley 4-3 Cardiff (OT)
Slough Jets vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
The lone team left in South 2 without a point, Swindon Wildcats visit the mini-Hangar on Saturday in search of a win against Slough Jets.
Following Lee Valley’s overtime loss last weekend which secured the Lions their first point of the campaign, Swindon (0 wins/9 losses, 0 points) were dropped into last place with a disappointing duck egg still intact in the point column. But the Wildcats have plenty of reason to hope. Although they picked up another loss on Sunday against Solent, they only lost by one goal—a very good result against one of the former South 1 sides.
Slough (2 regulation wins/1 OT win/9 losses, 6 points) have had a tough couple of weeks against some even better ex-South 1 sides, playing against Oxford City at home and travelling away to Bracknell, with both matches resulting in heavy losses. Prior to that, though, Slough had been in good form, winning three of four matches. The question for them is whether or not they can find that form again. The good news for the Jets? They don’t necessarily need to be at their very best to defeat Swindon, unless the Wildcats can put together another performance like last week’s.
Don’s Prediction: Slough 7-5 Swindon
Laurence’s Prediction: Slough 6-3 Swindon
Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Basingstoke Buffalo
Peterborough will be looking to stop their freefall on Sunday as they host Basingstoke.
The Phantoms (7 regulation wins/1 OT win/3 losses, 16 points) won their first seven games of the season but since then have lost three out of four and haven’t been the same great team since key forward Nathan Pollard was called up to the South 1 side. The last two games have been particularly disappointing for Peterborough as they were shutout by Solent 6-0 and then by Oxford City 7-0. Last weekend’s loss to the Stars is the second time this season Peterborough have lost to table-topping Oxford, which makes it that much harder to see the Phantoms chasing down the leaders.
Basingstoke (4 wins/6 losses, 8 points) have continued having a very average season. They’ve lost heavily to the South 1 sides, picked up wins against the lower-ranked teams, secured an upset against Guildford and only lost by two goals to former South 1 club Solent. Last weekend was disappointing for Basingstoke, though. They hosted Cardiff, who have struggled away from Wales in recent times, but despite the Buffalo outshooting the Fire, it was Cardiff who left the arena with a 6-2 win.
Basingstoke will be anxious to get back into the win column after that defeat, but probably not as anxious as Peterborough. But anxiety for wins isn’t all that counts—Peterborough are, quite simply, a better team. Look for them to halt their losing streak this Sunday.
Don’s Prediction: Peterborough 9-5 Basingstoke
Laurence’s Prediction: Peterborough 8-3 Basingstoke
Chelmsford Chieftains vs Oxford City Stars
Last weekend was a hugely successful one for both the Chieftains and the Stars; Chelmsford dispatched Haringey on the road and shut out Guildford at home while Oxford also took a shutout victory against strong opposition, beating Peterborough 7-0. Now they face off against each other for the first time.
Former NIHL South 1 dominators Chelmsford (6 wins/1 loss, 12 points) have had a strange start to life in NIHL2, as their disjointed schedule has meant they have only played seven games while some other teams have already played 12. Nonetheless the Chieftains seem to be hitting good form now – their shock defeat to Bristol aside – as they have won six of their seven games to date. They will be missing forward Grant Bartlett through suspension for quite some time, but are getting enough scoring from his brother Cameron as well as Ross Brears and import Filip Supa to make up for that.
Meanwhile the Oxford (11 wins/1 loss, 22 points) juggernaut rolls on, with the City Stars sitting pretty at the top of the table having lost just one of their 12 games to date. The month of November saw them win all five of their games with a goal difference of +28, and last weekend’s 7-0 shutout win over Peterborough sent a big statement to the rest of the league. Kamil Kinkor is the league’s top scorer with 37 points in 12 games, and he is being ably backed up in the scoring charts by Joe Edwards and Josh Oliver, both of whom have already passed the 25 point mark.
This should be a fantastic game between two teams full of talented players. The result could go either way, but Oxford would seem to have the slight edge given how dominant they were throughout November. This one is not to be missed.
Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 6-5 Oxford (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 4-6 Oxford
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Guildford Phoenix
17:30 Lee Valley Lions vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire
18:00 Slough Jets vs Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats
17:30 Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Basingstoke Buffalo
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Oxford City Stars
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.
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