NIHL South preview: Chieftains want magnificent four

Chelmsford boss Sean Easton says he was delighted to see the Chieftains clinch their fourth NIHL1 South title in a row, but has challenged his team not to take their foot off the gas this season.

Chieftains, who had already claimed the South East Trophy, still have the D1S Cup final and the end-of-season play-offs to look forward to and Easton wants his players to complete the quadruple.

“I’m extremely proud,” Easton told the Essex Chronicle. “We built a team from the start to win but it’s only a pipe-dream until it’s achieved, so I’m over the moon.

“People have different arguments but I believe a league is a lot harder to win than the play-offs. You’ve got to be a lot more consistent.

“There still have two more trophies to play for. We’ve got the cup final in two weeks time and then the play-offs.

“The aim is to win everything this year so we need to keep going. Momentum is key. Winning is a habit and if you drop off slightly you find it hard to win games, so we need to keep it going.

“Our priority is to win the final and the play-offs, but we need to take it game-by-game.

“After last year and the way we got kicked out of the play-offs, I think we wanted to make a statement and continue our winning ways, but in the right way.

“We’ve kept within budget, we haven’t spent more than what we’ve needed to. We’ve actually spent less than what we did last year, while still bringing through the homegrown talent.

“The kids have been able to play and develop into how we play, so we want to win, but in the right way.

“We’ve got some cracking juniors out there and it was getting to the point where they were pushing so hard that we had to give them an opportunity or we’d lose them.

“So we have given them that chance and they’ve taken it.”

Oxford City Stars have confirmed Head Coach Simon Anderson has agreed a second season with the club.

Anderson has enjoyed an impressive first season in charge, with Stars guaranteed to finish in the top half of the table.

David Hurn, club coordinator and a Director for the Stars, said: “Simon’s been an enormous success story and we’re extremely happy he’s committed to another season at Oxpens Road.

“The club has come on leaps and bounds in the past four years, and Simon’s massive contribution, commitment and professionalism has made sure we’ve keep that forward momentum going – who knows where it could lead us in the coming years?”

Anderson added: “I’m delighted to have agreed a return to coach the Stars. The season has been a huge success with us moving into fifth spot and pushing for fourth.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the players, they are a fantastic bunch of guys and they make it a pleasure to come to the rink.

“The goal is to now go as deep as we can in the play-offs and then build this club to the next level during the summer, both on and off the ice.

“The challenge is then for us to hopefully break into the top four next season and with the guys we have, if we can keep them together, I do not feel this is an unrealistic team goal.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL1 South

Saturday

Cardiff Devils NIHL v Invicta Dynamos
London Raiders v Chelmsford Chieftains
Wightklink Raiders v Solent Devils

Sunday

Chelmsford Chieftains v Wightlink Raiders
Invicta Dynamos v Streatham Redskins
MK Thunder v London Raiders
Oxford City Stars v Bracknell Hornets
Solent Devils v Cardiff Devils NIHL

NIHL2 South

Saturday

Bristol Pitbulls v Cardiff Fire
Haringey Racers v Peterborough Islanders

Sunday

Wighlink Tigers v Basingstoke Buffalo

(Image permission: Steve Sutherland)

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