After a huge weekend of fixtures last time out that saw the Oxford City Stars clinch the NIHL South 2 championship, a quieter weekend of fixtures awaits us over Easter. There are just three games scheduled, however a big clash between third placed Bracknell and fourth placed Chelmsford on Saturday should certainly make up for the lack of fixtures.
On Easter Sunday, Bracknell will be in action again as they take on the Cardiff Fire. Bracknell will be looking to secure third place in the league, while Cardiff are still aiming for the playoffs. The final fixture of the weekend is also on Sunday as Slough – who clinched a playoff spot last weekend despite not playing! – travel to Swindon to face the Wildcats.
Bracknell Hornets vs Chelmsford Chieftains
An out of form Bracknell play host to Chelmsford, who have a 10-game winning streak, in a crucial game for final league positioning.
Bracknell (19 wins/1 OT loss/3 regulation losses, 39 points) have had a rather dismal month. After barely beating Solent at home to start March, they were upset in OT by Slough, lost away to Peterborough and were smashed by Solent in Gosport on Saturday, 8-2. They turned things around on Sunday with an 11-5 triumph over 12th-placed Invicta, and they’ll just have to hope that the victory will catapult them back into winning ways. They still have a small chance of finishing second, but there’s also the danger that they will be caught from behind by the Chieftains.
Chelmsford (19 wins/5 regulation losses, 38 points) have not lost a game since 28 January, and during that run they’ve scored an average of 9.6 goals per game, while allowing an average of 2.2. Of course, only three of those games were against teams currently in the playoff places, and none were against Chelmsford’s fellow former South 1 clubs. Chelmsford were not in action last week, and should be well-rested to take on the Hornets. Last time they met, the Chieftains secured a 3-2 win in Essex.
Solent, Bracknell and Chelmsford are guaranteed to take positions two to four, but the order still isn’t clear. The result of this game will go a long way in determining how everyone finishes up.
Don’s Prediction: Bracknell 4-5 Chelmsford (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Bracknell 6-5 Chelmsford (OT)
Bracknell Hornets vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire
After what promises to be an intense game the previous night against Chelmsford, the Hornets are at home again on Sunday as they welcome Cardiff to the Hive.
Bracknell have suffered a dip in form at precisely the wrong time, with three losses on the bounce to Slough, Peterborough and Solent not only costing them the title, but also possibly second place. They are now four points behind Solent with three games left to play, so the Hornets absolutely cannot afford another defeat if they want to grab that runners-up spot. Their 11-5 win over Invicta last Sunday was a good start, as the Hornets arrested their three game skid with a comprehensive victory in which six different forwards scored at least one goal,with both Steve Fisher and Josh Ealey-Newman completing hat-tricks. They will need more of that in their remaining games.
Cardiff (9 wins/14 regulation losses, 18 points) currently sit in tenth but are just one point off a playoff spot, with games in hand on both Haringey and Bristol ahead of them. However they cannot afford another result like last Saturday’s game in Peterborough, where they fell 14-2 to the Phantoms. Their 2-1 win in Swindon the night after was a good way to bounce back from that result and, even if they don’t beat Bracknell in this game, they will still fancy their chances of reaching the post-season with two tough but very winnable games against Haringey and Swindon still to come after this one.
Bracknell will be giving everything they have to try to secure second spot in the league, so expect a motivated Hornets side to have a bit too much for Cardiff in this one.
Don’s Prediction: Bracknell 7-3 Cardiff
Laurence’s Prediction: Bracknell 9-4 Cardiff
Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Slough Jets
Playoff-bound Slough look to keep momentum going as they visit Swindon, who still have a chance to finish with a better position in the table.
Swindon (5 wins/17 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 11 points) have three games remaining, which means they could potentially move ahead of Invicta and Basingstoke into 11th place. The Wildcats had a better second half of the season, and more recently they’ve won two out of three, defeating Bristol and Lee Valley before narrowly losing to Cardiff last week, 2-1. Last time Swindon met Slough, they jumped out to a big lead only to see the Jets fight back to force overtime and then win it to send the Wildcats away with just one point.
Slough(12 wins/13 regulation losses, 24 points) will take to the ice knowing they are in the playoffs after Bristol’s loss last Sunday. The Jets have won seven from their last nine and have a four-game winning run. At home they are unbeaten since November but their away form is something they’ll want to improve ahead of the quarterfinals. With some big upsets on their CV, including Chelmsford, Peterborough and Bracknell, Slough will be aiming to finish the regular season strongly and cement their seventh-place position.
Both clubs have improved as the season has progressed, although have clearly done better; but the Jets away from is suspect and the last time these two met, it took OT to separate them. This could be a very good match.
Don’s Prediction: Swindon 4-6 Slough
Laurence’s Prediction: Swindon 3-5 Slough
18:00 Bracknell Hornets vs Chelmsford Chieftains
18:00 Bracknell Hornets vs Cardiff NIHL2 Fire
19:45 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats vs Slough Jets
NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) Standings
High and low indicate highest and lowest possible finishing position in the league
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!
482days Expert Prediction Competition (after Sunday 25th March)
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