NIHL South weekend preview

London Raiders’ forward Seb Downing has targeted starting 2016 on a winning note against Wightlink Raiders on Saturday.

The islanders won 4-3 on their last visit to London six weeks ago, but Downing says his side can get revenge.

“Wightlink are a good side, but away from home they’re beatable on any day,” he said. “I think it will be a great test for us to improve our form at home and get back to winning ways and get on a roll again.

“We’ve just got to do what we do best. We are the fastest team in this league on our best day and we just have to utilise that and get pucks deep, drive the net and work hard.

“I think a lot of teams in this league are very even and at the end of the day, it’s just down to hard work and that’s what we have to do in order to succeed this weekend and come play-off time.”

London have won just once in their last five games and ended 2015 with a disappointing 5-3 defeat at home to Bracknell Hornets. Downing is confident they will bounce back.

“Obviously it wasn’t the result we wanted and we have no excuses for that, but once again we outplayed them,” he added.

“We gifted them their opportunities for the most part, but we shouldn’t worry. We have been having great form at home and will continue to do so for the rest of the season, it was just one of those games that puck luck wasn’t on our side.”

Influential duo Liam Chong and Marek Nahlik will be back in the London line-up against Wightlink and Downing says their return is a big boost.

“It’s going to be great to have them back,” said Downing. “They make a massive difference to the way we control the game and are two of the best players in this league by far.

Swindon Wildcats NIHL return to the ice for the New Year with a trip Bristol Pitbulls on Sunday.

Wildcats suffered a fourth league defeat of the season against Basingstoke Buffalo in their last outing before the Christmas break.

Despite the four losses, the Western Conference remains a tight affair with the top three sides. Cardiff, Basingstoke and Bristol, all locked on eight points each while Swindon are just two points behind.

The Cats will take comfort from having already recorded one victory against their opposition, a 6-1 cup win in early December.

Pitbulls lost their third straight game when they fell 7-5 to the Haringey Racers in their final fixture before the break, leaving Sunday’s encounter a must-win game for both sides.

WEEKEND FIXTURES

NIHL1 South

Saturday
Bracknell Hornets v Streatham Redskins
London Raiders v Wightlink Raiders

Sunday
Chelmsford Chieftains v Oxford City Stars
Streatham Redskins v Solent Devils (Cup)

NIHL2 South

Saturday
Haringey Racers v Invicta Mustangs
Peterborough Islanders v Basingstoke Buffalo (Cup)

Sunday

Bristol Pitbulls v Swindon Wildcats NIHL
Lee Valley Lions v Haringey Racers

(Image permission: John Scott)

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