NIHL South preview: Clements says Chieftains can still improve

Chelmsford Chieftains head to Bracknell Hornets on Saturday hoping to strengthen their grip at the top of NIHL1 South.

Despite losing many of last season’s quadruple-winning squad the Chieftains are yet to lose in the league this term, winning seven and drawing one of their eight games.

Netminder Ben Clements has been in impressive form, registering a .919 save percentage to give the team a solid platform to build from.

“Overall I think as a team we can be pretty happy with how things are going so far this season – we are top of the league and unbeaten,” said Clements.

“We’re also through to the semi-finals of the cup and I like our chances of reaching the final, but we’re still looking to improve and hopefully we can get a nice win streak going.

“Our away game at Bracknell will be tough, as they’ve improved since last time we played them. We can’t afford to drop too many points now the league is a lot closer at the top.

“We’re at home to London Raiders on Sunday and even though it’s in the cup where we’re both already though to the last four, it’s still a massive game for us being against our closest rivals.”

Streatham visit Oxford City Stars on Sunday aiming to stay in touch with the top of the table.

Jeremy Cornish’s team trail the Chieftains by six points and need a win to keep their title hopes alive.

“Since I have arrived I cannot fault the work rate of the players,” Cornish told London News Online.

“We’ve made eight signings in the space of three weeks, which is a big adjustment for everyone at the club, but the supporters have seen the difference and we will only get better as time goes on.

“We need to start shooting more and putting pucks on net during games to give ourselves more chances of scoring, and then we will start to punish teams.”

Haringey Racers host Wightlink Buccaneers on Saturday hoping to boost their hopes of securing a semi-final spot in the D2S Cup.

The Racers, who are also chasing a play-off place in the league, head into the game on the back of two victories and Head Coach Gary Dodds wants to keep the momentum going.

“The cup games open up our season and it certainly makes the competition more interesting,” said Dodds. “I’m still undecided which region has the best teams which adds to the excitement.

“We’re still in the hunt for second place in D2S (E) – Peterborough Islanders are clear favourites to finish top, while all the other teams have been taking points of each other.

“I’ve seen a huge improvement in Invicta Mustangs this year – their young players are really maturing and have bags of confidence.

“It should be an interesting second half to the season after the festive break.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL1 South

Saturday

Bracknell Hornets v Chelmsford Chieftains
London Raiders v Invicta Dynamos
MK Thunder v Oxford City Stars

Sunday

Chelmsford Chieftains v London Raiders (Cup)
Invicta Dynamos v MK Thunder
Oxford City Stars v Streatham IHC
Solent Devils v Bracknell Hornets

NIHL2 South

Saturday

Haringey Racers v Wightlink Buccaneers (Cup)
Peterborough Islanders v Swindon Wildcats NIHL (Cup)

(Image permission: Steve Sutherland)

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