It’s been a tough couple of years for the London Raiders, and the NIHL1 South club are once again struggling at the wrong end of the table.
Having gone twelve games without a win, the Leyton-based outfit are heading into a crucial stage of the season in which they know anything other than a winning run will end their chances of making it into the play-offs.
Boasting some talented experience as well as exciting youngsters, it’s now just a case of getting it right on the ice on a consistent basis for the Raiders – something that has been lacking this season.
Having finished eighth last year, the Raiders have improved slightly this term, although they remain some way behind the league’s best sides – they are currently 32 points adrift of league leaders Chelmsford Chieftains.
There have been a number of positives for Raiders’ Head Coach Alan Blyth to take from what has been another tough season, but the London boss won’t be ready to throw in the towel yet on a campaign which could still have some life left in it.
The One to Attend
One particularly interesting game that could be well worthwhile attending over the next few weeks is the home fixture against MK Thunder on February 27th.
While there might not be the same confidence around this team as there was at the turn of the year, it’s amazing what a string of wins can do, and a couple of victories could really spark a timely run of form over the next few weeks.
Those in London looking for some high quality ice hockey could do a lot worse than attend the game against Milton Keynes, in what could be a make-or-break tie for both teams.
If you’re interested in continuing the fun after the game, which gets under way at 5.30pm, it’s only a short train ride into the centre of London, where everything and anything is on offer.
With London attracting almost 17 million tourists a year, it isn’t just sports that takes people to the capital.
When the ice hockey is finished, you could do a lot worse than heading into London to explore some of the city’s nightlife, from the bars and nightclubs to the casinos.
There is no shortage of things to do in London later in the evening, from catching a show in the West End, to sampling some of the capital’s fantastic bars and restaurants.
From Dans le Noir, where you eat in complete darkness, to the South African-inspired Shaka Zulu, there are a string of quirky and popular restaurants where you could enjoy a late-night meal.
To round off your evening, what better way than by sipping a few cocktails at the delightful and elegant Piano Kensington or with some karaoke at the fabulously-named Bunga Bunga bar in Battersea.
For those looking to enjoy a show, the West End is currently playing host to some of the most iconic productions around, and whether it’s The Lion King or Jersey Boys, there is something for everybody in London’s famous theatrical area.
London has been synonymous with gambling for centuries. In fact, it was in White’s Gentleman’s Club where the 4th Earl of Sandwich invented the sandwich as a way of keeping his hands clean during a game of cards.
Whether you’re an experienced gambler looking for one of the city’s traditional venues, such as White’s or the Ritz, or someone who could do with consulting a casino guide before betting for the first time, you’ll have your pick of some of the best in Europe.
This is great news if you’re hitting the tables after watching what could be a very exciting game of ice hockey at the Lee Valley Ice Centre.
Are the Raiders stronger this season?
Having amassed a mere nine victories throughout the entire 2014/15 season, it was always going to be tough for the Raiders to not do better this year.
Despite their recent shocking run of form, the club is on course to improve on that tally this season, although the team’s management would rather it happened sooner rather than later.
Whenever it looks as though the Raiders are putting a string of results together, it seems as though it only helps signal the start of a new losing streak.
After halting a six-game losing run with back-to-back draws against Solent and Streatham, the Raiders had hoped to turn a corner when they faced Chelmsford at the end of January.
That optimistic feeling didn’t last long, with the Chieftains running out comfortable 4-1 winners.
Raiders have gone on to lose their next three, but with a number of winnable games coming up, they will be desperate to try and find some consistency between now and the end of the regular season.
Despite their inconsistent run of results this year, this is a much stronger looking team.
While much of the focus will rightly go on the prolific Marek Nahlik, who has scored 41 points from his 26 league appearances, the Raiders have been boosted by the recent arrival of Chelmsford duo Matt France and John Connolly.
With a number of talented youngsters coming through the ranks, there are all the pieces of a very capable squad at the Lee Valley Ice Centre – the task is to now prove they can compete with the best over the course of a full season.
Research & Sources
London Raiders: Category Archives – Ice Hockey
Poker Stars – Story of Casino: Casino Culture & History
Trip Advisor London: Entertainment & Venues in London
English Ice Hockey Association: What’s on & Calendar of Events