The NIHL Southern Cup final takes centre stage this weekend as D1S champions Chelmsford Chieftains face-off against runners-up Invicta Dynamos over two legs.
Invicta have lost just once in the cup this season and roared through their semi-final tie against Streatham IHC courtesy of a 12-4 aggregate success.
The Kent outfit recorded two victories over the Chieftains during the group stage and Head Coach Kevin Parrish believes his team have the ability to do it again.
“Naturally we’re very happy to be in the cup final, but right now we’re just focused on the sixty minutes of hockey in Chelmsford and then another sixty minutes in Gillingham,” said Parrish.
“This is a showpiece event, but it’s still hockey that will win the tie and we’re not looking beyond that.
“Given what they’ve achieved in recent seasons Chelmsford will rightly be considered favourites, but we’ve shown we can compete with them in match-ups this year and there’s a belief in this room that if we’re at 100 percent we’ll be in with a shout.
“We’ve had a catalogue of injuries this campaign, but we’re probably now as close to a full-strength roster as we’ve been all season with the lines finally looking settled.
“Now it’s all about doing a job in Chelmsford before the second leg at home, where we know our fans will provide a phenomenal atmosphere.
“Last time we reached the final the rink was packed – it was standing room only and the support was out of this world.
“It fires the guys up, it motivates them and it gives them heart. If both the team and the fans are giving 100 percent then who knows what can happen?
“We’re ready to go. Moments like this are why you play the game.”
Chelmsford are unbeaten in their last 15 games and reached the final after securing an 8-2 overall victory over London Raiders.
With a fifth consecutive league title safely in the bag, Head Coach Sean Easton is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to chase down more silverware in both the cup and play-offs.
“Now we’re at the business end of the season, the fun begins,” said Easton.
“Every game is a knock-out – every game is a trophy game. No-one’s working off the back of their form or last result – the new season begins.
“Teams are regenerated with a new purpose and new targets that are anyone’s. If you play smart and hard for 120 minutes the season continues, but play for sixty minutes your season ends.”
Chelmsford Chieftains v Invicta Dynamos (Cup)
Invicta Dynamos v Chelmsford Chieftains (Cup)
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(Image permission: David Trevallion)