There are five games this weekend in NIHL South 2, and with league leaders Oxford having a weekend off, attention turns to the chasing pack.
Both Peterborough and Chelmsford have not been on great form as of late – Peterborough have lost three of their last five, and needed a shootout to beat Basingstoke last weekend, while Chelmsford have lost two of their last five including being shut out by Oxford last Sunday. The two sides face each other on Saturday in a big game for both clubs.
Saturday also sees the Solent Devils – currently third in the table – visit Invicta, while Slough host Haringey. Meanwhile on Sunday, Chelmsford are in action again as they host Lee Valley, while Bristol travel to Basingstoke.
Invicta Mustangs vs Solent Devils
Another week and yet another game between one of the lower-ranked sides in South 2 and one of the former South 1 sides, as Invicta play host to Solent.
Invicta (3 wins/9 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) sit in 12th place with four losses out of their last five. Their only win in that stretch was an overtime win over winless Lee Valley. To make matter worse for the Mustangs, the loss back on 11 November was against Solent, who took an 8-2 victory. Invicta will have home ice for this match, but of course home support didn’t help much last weekend against Guildford as the Mustangs lost 6-2.
Solent (8 wins/1 regulation loss/1 OT loss, 17 points) have done the reverse of Invicta in their last five matches, having won four and lost one. That last loss was against Chelmsford back in late October, but things haven’t been as sunny as they look for Solent. They last played a fortnight ago against bottom of the table Swindon and barely edged out a 5-4 victory.
Invicta can take heart from how close Swindon came to an upset, but the odds still favour Solent by a pretty substantial margin.
Don’s Prediction: Invicta 3-7 Solent
Laurence’s Prediction: Invicta 2-7 Solent
Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Chelmsford Chieftains
The biggest game of the weekend sees second place Peterborough host seventh place Chelmsford, with both sides hoping for a win to get their title challenge back on track.
Peterborough (9 wins/3 losses, 18 points) started the season so well – the Phantoms won each of their first seven games and looked like they could compete with the sides that had dropped down from NIHL1. But losses to Oxford (twice) and Solent, and a tight shootout win over Basingstoke last weekend, have meant the Phantoms come into this game desperate for a win. They are still second in the table but many teams below them have games in hand, and they cannot afford to slip up.
Chelmsford (6 wins/2 losses, 12 points) slipped up themselves last month with a surprise 3-1 loss to Bristol, while last Sunday they were shut out in their own rink by league leaders Oxford. The Chieftains have still played a lot less games than most of the teams above them. but they need to take advantage of those extra games if they want to start climbing the table. They made a change of import midweek, as Filip Supa – who has scored 15 goals already this season but went scoreless in both of Chelmsford’s losses – was released and replaced by NIHL1 veteran Michal Oravec. He should bring a strong scoring touch to the Chieftains.
This is a big game for both sides, and it’s tough to call. But with Oravec bringing some higher-level experience to the Chieftains, that could give the Essex side the edge in this one.
Don’s Prediction: Peterborough 4-5 Chelmsford
Laurence’s Prediction: Peterborough 3-5 Chelmsford
Slough Jets vs Haringey Huskies
Haringey travel to Slough on Saturday as they look to keep pace with the big boys of South 2, while Slough will be hoping to secure an upset.
The Jets (4 wins/9 losses, 8 points) seem to have recovered from their tough fortnight when they lost heavily to Oxford City and Bracknell, as last weekend they started slowly against Swindon but rallied for the overtime win. A power surge in Slough’s mini-Hangar nearly ended the game after 12 minutes with no goals on the scoreboard, but fortunately the teams were able to retake the ice, after arranging to play 24 minutes in each of the remaining two period. And in the elongated second stanza, it was the Wildcats who had the better time, moving out to a 3-1 lead. Swindon extended their lead to 4-1 early on in the third, but then just a minute later, Luke Reynolds pulled one back for Slough. The Jets added two more goals in the final ten courtesy of Nathan Darmanin and Liam Underdown to send the game to OT. After a minute of free hockey, Jamie Chandler completed the comeback with a match-winning goal for Slough.
Haringey (7 wins/5 losses, 14 points) sit in sixth place in South 2, having won three of their last five, although there last result was a 7-3 home loss against Chelmsford. The Huskies fell behind 2-0 but rallied to draw level as Samuel Jackson converted a penalty shot and Bryn Griffiths added their second goal a few minutes later. But Chelmsford’s Filip Supa, who had already scored one of the Chieftains’ goals, added three more to have himself and five-point evening and lead Chelmsford to victory.
Haringey may not be the same calibre as the former South 1 sides, but they should be able to visit Slough and take home a win. For the Jets, forcing the game to OT and earning a point would be seen as a success.
Don’s Prediction: Slough 6-7 Haringey (OT)
Laurence’s Prediction: Slough 3-6 Haringey
Basingstoke Buffalo vs Bristol Pitbulls
The Pitbulls visit the Buffalo on Sunday in an intriguing match that is one of the most difficult to predict this weekend.
Bristol (3 wins/5 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 7 points) currently sit in 11th, two points and two places behind Basingstoke—but the Buffalo have played two more games. And Bristol’s last three results have given Pitbulls fans reason to be pleased. Bristol shocked former South 1 side Chelmsford 3-1, narrowly lost to Cardiff away and then a fortnight ago demolished Lee Valley 11-1. Olly Shone scored four goals and tallied two assists against the Lions, while Logan Prince added a brace and Richard Hargreaves had five assists and a goal.
Home side Basingstoke (4 wins//6 regulation losses/1 OT loss, 9 points) have had a slightly rougher time of it in recent weeks, defeated Slough and Swindon by just a goal and then losing 6-2 at home to Cardiff. But last weekend, the Buffalo took Peterborough to overtime and although Basingstoke ultimately lost, and the Phantoms have been sliding as of late, it was certainly a result that Basingstoke can build on. Blair Dubyk continued his fine season, scoring a hat trick to move to 15 points from 11 games.
So who will emerge with the win in this one? It’s tough to call but Basingstoke may just have the edge with home ice. But don’t be surprised if Bristol take away the points.
Don’s Prediction: Basingstoke 5-6 Bristol
Laurence’s Prediction: Basingstoke 3-4 Bristol (OT)
Chelmsford Chieftains vs Lee Valley Lions
Chelmsford play their second game of the weekend at the Riverside on Sunday, hosting a Lee Valley side still looking for their first win.
Chelmsford will be coming off a tough-looking game against Peterborough the previous night, so depending on how that game goes they will either be out for revenge in this one or looking to cap off a winning weekend. Either way, the Chieftains should have enough quality at both ends of the ice to see off the Lions.
Lee Valley (10 regulation losses/2 OT losses, 2 points) lost their second overtime game in as many weeks on Saturday against Cardiff, as they were unable to make a 4-2 lead count, ultimately going down 5-4. To make matters worse, debutant Tom Hurley was injured during the game, adding to an already lengthy injury list. Even at full strength, the Lions would struggle to compete with a strong Chieftains side, so this will be a very tough ask for them.
Expect a comfortable win in this one for a Chelmsford side with a lot of quality in their lineup.
Don’s Prediction: Chelmsford 12-3 Lee Valley
Laurence’s Prediction: Chelmsford 8-3 Lee Valley
17:15 Invicta Mustangs vs Solent Devils
17:30 Peterborough NIHL2 Phantoms vs Chelmsford Chieftains
18:00 Slough Jets vs Haringey Huskies
18:30 Basingstoke Buffalo vs Bristol Pitbulls
18:30 Chelmsford Chieftains vs Lee Valley Lions
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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