NIHL South preview: Raiders look to turn corner

London Raiders face NIHL1 South leaders Chelmsford Chieftains on Saturday looking to end a run of eight games without a win.

Raiders have drawn their last two games against Solent Devils and Streatham Redskins, and with ex-Chieftains’ pair Matt France and John Connolly (above) bolstering their blueline, fellow defenseman David Oliver is confident a victory isn’t too far away.

He said: “The new boys look great. We know what we get from Matty – he’s a solid player and has a rocket of a shot and brings our powerplay along.

“JC is the one for me. The guy is a calm head in our ‘D’ and he’d walk into any team in this league.

“I feel as a team we have picked up some jewels in those two. It will only help out in the long run.

“But not only do we have them – Ryan (Bainborough) in goal is looking better and better and he’ll help Michael Gray with the games.”

Raiders produced a spirited performance in last weekend’s South East Cup tie against the Redskins, eventually settling for a share of the spoils in a 5-5 draw, leaving Oliver eyeing the top half of the league table.

“It was a great game of hockey,” he added. “I feel we should have come out on top in the end, but we had to settle for a point.

“On paper now we have a great team and Saturday night was a turning point for us. We can start picking up wins now and moving up the league and pushing on for the play-offs.”

Streatham’s new defenseman David Savage has targeted a strong end to the season ahead of this weekend’s double-header against Wightlink Raiders.

Savage scored on his debut against London last weekend, as Redskins extended their recent unbeaten run to seven games.

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully it will be a successful campaign,” he said.

“I really enjoyed the first weekend of hockey back with Streatham. The standard was higher than I expected and it was good to help keep the unbeaten run going.

“I am moving forward with my career outside of hockey, so the chance to keep playing with less training commitments in comparison to the EPL suits me well.

Swindon Wildcats NIHL host Haringey Racers in the D2S Cup on Sunday with both sides knowing victory will send them through to the last four of the competition.

After three games without a win, Wildcats bounced back to form last weekend with a 5-3 success at Haringey and Player/Coach Daniel Sullivan is hoping they can build on that back on home ice.

“We’ve been on a poor run of games and we were too comfortable in our lines so things needed to change,” said Sullivan.

“We’ve got people fighting for spots and it worked, it was a huge turnaround from the last few games.

“We now have the momentum going into the return game this Sunday and we know a win will see us with a chance of some silverware this season.

“For such a young team to be in with a shot of that is great for the guys and I’m hoping for a repeat of the performance this week.

“We know it will be tough as the Racers are a quality side and will be aiming at for the same thing, so we’ll need to be on our game and hope that the fans turn up and get behind us and help us achieve our goal.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL1 South

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

NIHL2 South

Saturday

Chelmsford Warriors v Lee Valley Lions
Peterborough Islanders v Invicta Mustangs

Sunday

Basingstoke Buffalo v Lee Valley Lions (Cup)
Chelmsford Warriors v Slough Jets
Swindon Wildcats NIHL v Haringey Racers (Cup)

(Image permissions: John Scott & Phil Hutchinson)

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