NIHL South preview: Johnston hoping to go out on a high

Streatham IHC captain Joe Johnston hopes to end his career on a high by securing the NIHL1 South play-off title.

Johnston surprisingly announced his intention to retire at the end of the season following last weekend’s disappointing 12-4 aggregate defeat against Invicta Dynamos in the D1S Cup.

With home games against Chelsmford Chieftains and Oxford City Stars this weekend, Johnston is now focused on building momentum for the end-of-season showdown.

“There’s not really much to say other than our performances were quite simply not acceptable for a Streatham team,” Johnston told London News Online.

“I can accept being beaten by better opposition if we have given it our all but there seemed to be an alarming lack of motivation on the ice. It wasn’t all bad – we controlled large parts of the weekend, but Invicta were clinical where we weren’t.

“Pride, passion and hard work have always been the bare minimum requirements to play for our club and sadly there was a lack of that over the two games.

“We didn’t follow instructions given to us by the coaching team and limped out of the cup competition. Our full focus now is clearly picking up as many points as possible in the last few league games then really giving it a go in the play-offs.”

Cardiff Fire have set their sights on completing the season with their perfect record intact.

The D2S (West) outfit have won all 15 games during the current campaign and are looking to add the cup and play-off title to their divisional crown.

“We set out to win all three trophies – title, cup and play-offs – when the season started, and now we’re aiming even higher,” Head Coach Mark Cuddihy told Dai Sports.

“We would love to complete the treble and stay unbeaten all season. That’s a tough, tough task, but we are all working flat out to to try and make it happen.

“We are building towards the cup finals weekend and play-offs now. Our remaining league games will help us try some new and different line combinations and systems.”

Peterborough Islanders are aiming to match Cardiff this weekend by claiming the D2S (East) regular season title.

The Islanders have won all 14 league games this term and can clinch the crown at home to Lee Valley Lions on Saturday.

Head Coach Stevie Johnson told Peterborough Today he was proud of his team’s efforts.

“The boys have done superbly this season – we’ve been runners-up in the league the last two years and managed to kick on this season,” he said.

“All the boys pay to play so they’ve earned their success. Ice-hire and travelling expenses all come out of their own pockets, so there is a huge amount of dedication involved.

“Hopefully we can keep the winning run going and get the title sewn up on Saturday – and it would be great to see a good crowd in the building with Phantoms being away.

“We’ve got six games to go, but we want to finish the job as soon as possible. Put it this way, if we don’t win the league from this position, I’ll be looking for another job!”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL1 South

Saturday

Bracknell Hornets v MK Thunder
Solent Devils v Invicta Dynamos
Streatham IHC v Chelmsford Chieftains

Sunday

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

NIHL2 South

Saturday

Cardiff Fire v Wightlink Buccaneers
Chelmsford Warriors v Haringey Racers
Invicta Mustangs v Slough Jets
Peterborough Islanders v Lee Valley Lions

Sunday

Basingstoke Buffalo v Cardiff Fire
Haringey Racers v Chelmsford Warriors
Slough Jets v Peterborough Islanders

(Image permission: Rick Webb)

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