Invicta Dynamos are in action twice this weekend as they continue to chase Chelmsford Chieftains at the top of NIHL1 South.
The Dynamos face Bracknell Hornets and London Raiders hoping to narrow the eight point gap to the Chieftains ahead of the Christmas break.
Five wins in a row has kept the Kent outfit’s title hopes alive and defender Tommy Ralph (above) believes the race is far from over.
“We’re steadily building up to the standard of hockey we want to be associated with,” said Ralph.
“We were hit hard with injuries at the start of the year to most of our clutch players and lost games we shouldn’t have.
“Now we have mostly everyone back we’re starting to find our flow. We need to tighten up defensively as a team and I think we can get on a huge roll.
“Nobody has seen us play our best hockey yet as we’ve only shown it in small portions – when we get to that level for a full sixty minutes we’ll be the team to beat.
“This weekend we travel to Bracknell who’ve improved a lot from the side we beat 11-0 in our home opener this season, so it won’t be an easy game.
“Playing London at home is a good way to sign off before Christmas. The fans love our games with the Raiders and it’s always a good atmosphere – the players love playing in them.
“In the New Year I’d like to see us keep stringing wins together and slowly start to catch up to Chelmsford.
“With the league so strong this year if we keep winning our games, Chelmsford are bound to drop points along the way and sooner or later we’ll be right on their tails and going for that top spot.”
Oxford City Stars host the Chieftains on Sunday desperate to end a five-game losing streak.
That run of results has seen the Stars drop to fourth in the table and Head Coach Simon Anderson has demanded an improvement.
“We’re in a slump – end of story,” he told Oxfordshire Sport Online.
“If we want to be a top team, which we do, we have to be better. We’ve lost five in a row and the three games at the start of that block of five we weren’t good enough.
“Against Invicta last week we didn’t get started until the third period and if you only play one period out of three you’re not going to win a hockey game.
“The fact we ran Chelmsford close a couple of weeks ago gives us a little bit of hope that we can run with them and go into this weekend and win.”
Anderson will have one few face in his team after completing the signing of forward Jesse Lye.
The 20-year-old previously iced for the Basingstoke Bison junior teams from 2007 to 2011 before heading out to North America.
Lye has spent the last two seasons with the Boston Junior Bruins and Anderson believes he will be an excellent addition to the roster.
“Jesse has a tremendous skill set, skates very well and will add some much needed offense to our line-up,” added Anderson.
“We’re delighted he’s agreed to sign until the end of next season and I see him as someone who will really improve us at both ends of the ice.
“We’re looking to have a fast skilled team as we move forward and Jesse fits the bill perfectly with the type of player I’m looking to recruit both now and in the future.
Bracknell Hornets v Invicta Dynamos
London Raiders v MK Thunder
Invicta Dynamos v London Raiders
Oxford City Stars v Chelmsford Chieftains
Bristol Pitbulls v Cardiff Fire
Haringey Racers v Chelmsford Warriors
Swindon Wildcats NIHL v Basingstoke Buffalo
(Image permission: David Trevallion)