Everyone has now played in the Spring Cup so we’ve decided to delve into our basement, give them a good dusting off and bring back the Power Rankings.
Not since the halcyon days of the Elite League (who remembers that?) have we decided to come up with a countdown of our own, based on results, form and whatever else we can think of as the weeks go on.
So check out how we’ve rated the five teams in the NIHL competition so far now that everyone has got their skating feet under them again.
1. Telford Tigers
A solid return to action after 11 months for last season’s National League champions as they overcame a resolute Raiders team, particularly on Saturday to claim a four-point weekend.
The last minute addition of Robert Lachowicz brings plenty more experience to the Tigers line up and the impact of the Elite League names brought in by Tom Watkins has been clear already.
Of the eight goals they scored over their two games, six came from the batch of new faces so a message has been sent already as the champions from a year ago are keen to hit the ice running again.
2. Swindon Wildcats
What a difference a week makes and Wildcats got the best response to their two losses to Sheffield Steeldogs, by beating Bees twice in their second weekend.
Having two games under their belt already helped to make a difference as they got four points on the board, although they needed overtime to eventually get past Doug Sheppard’s men on Sunday.
The feelgood factor is back at Wildcats and being able to turn to Aaron Nell, their player-coach, for the big moments can make a difference, but they’ll be able to sit back and enjoy how the other teams fare.
3. Sheffield Steeldogs
No action for the Steeldogs leaves them in this mid-table position, but if they can return to action and claim full points like they did in the opening weekend, they could end up higher next week.
They would have learned a lot about their performances against Swindon since, but will now face Raiders with a weekend’s rest and in a better place to prepare for the weekend to come.
Their team looks arguably the strongest on paper and while their displays against Wildcats had an air of rustiness about them, this weekend might find them fresher for the challenges ahead.
Maybe not the weekend, results wise, they were hoping for, but considering how 2020 went for them, just being on the ice will be seen a victory in some quarters.
They can take some positives from the two games with Swindon and picking up a point is certainly better than nothing, it’s a work in progress.
New (shortened) name, new home and a team still coming together, they’ve got a big test to come against Telford Tigers and coach Sheppard will hope the 120+ plus minutes will have dusted off the cobwebs of a year’s inactivity almost.
Someone has to be bottom and sadly, Raiders are that team. They did okay against Tigers, but returning to action after 11 months out against a team with the quality of Telford was always a tricky task.
They had to withstand the news that Liam Stewart had to pull out through injury so there’s still a gap to fill in the team, but Sean Easton’s youthful side will learn from the two games.
The bedding in period is over and now Raiders can bounce back against *check notes* Sheffield Steeldogs. Another tough weekend awaits and something from either game might just give them a springboard.