NIHL South preview: Raiders eager for play-offs to start

London Raiders head into the final weekend of the regular season already eyeing the NIHL1 South play-offs.

The Raiders host Streatham IHC on Saturday before visiting Oxford City Stars the following day and could meet either side again in the end-of-season showdown.

Forward JJ Pitchley will sit out this weekend due to suspension and he admits he can’t wait for the play-offs to start.

“I’m not too comfortable with watching this weekend as I hate not being able to play,” Pitchley told the Romford Recorder.

“But play-off hockey is the best time of the season besides the first weekend back after a long summer. The games get more intense and teams seem to play better.

“I’m looking forward to either Streatham or Oxford. We are capable of beating both teams and moving forward, but equally these are going to be games where we need to knuckle down and play to our strong points.

“We need to get pucks in and pucks out, play physical and cause havoc in other team’s ends.

“Play-off games are tough games and games of mistakes. The team who makes the most normally loses.

“We’ve done fantastically well recently, taking advantage of other team’s mistakes, so here’s hoping we can do the same in the play-offs.”

Oxford head to Solent Devils on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Raiders, still hoping to secure a top three spot.

The Stars trail Streatham by three points heading into the weekend, but with Jeremy Cornish’s team facing champions Chelmsford Chieftains on Sunday the race for third is still alive.

Head Coach Simon Anderson says he’s delighted with how his team have performed this season and believes they’re capable of winning the play-off trophy.

“Obviously we could’ve done better, you can always do better, but I was tasked with fourth or fifth so if we can finish third that’d be great,” he told Stars TV.

“Whatever happens this weekend we’ll keep ourselves grounded. The play-offs are going to be totally different, but we’re a team that on our day can beat anybody.

“If we get the right buy-in and work ethic from the guys, there’s no reason why we couldn’t go and win them.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL1 South

Saturday

London Raiders v Streatham IHC
Solent Devils v Oxford City Stars

Sunday

Invicta Dynamos v Solent Devils
Oxford City Stars v London Raiders
Streatham IHC v Chelmsford Chieftains

NIHL2 South

Saturday

Bristol Pitbulls v Wightlink Buccaneers
Peterborough Islanders v Lee Valley Lions
Slough Jets v Invicta Mustangs

Sunday

Lee Valley Lions v Peterborough Islanders
Slough Jets v Chelmsford Warriors
Swindon Wildcats NIHL v Basingstoke Buffalo

(Image permission: John Scott)

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