Hello hockey fans and welcome to the opening leg of the Premier Cup Semi-Finals. Our opponents tonight are the Basingstoke Bison and we’ll make the return journey for the second leg in a few weeks time with the winner on aggregate advancing to the finals.
Scheduling for this, and the other semi-final has been very difficult this year. I originally suggested tonight and next Wednesday for these games but the Bison have a game at Telford next Wednesday due to the rink in Telford over-running it’s development. There is then a period of Team GB exclusion followed by us having a midweek game in Swindon meaning it’s four weeks between the two fixtures. It’s a shame as the series loses a bit of intensity with such a large gap in between but there is nothing else that can be done. Fitting in the final ahead of the play-offs will be a tight squeeze for which ever of us makes it as the second semi-final doesn’t finish until March 2nd!!
Tonigt’s semi-final is a repeat of the 2011 Final which the Jets won. Some of the Bison lined up with the Jets on that night to lift the trophy and now will line up against us trying to prevent us lifting the trophy again! The Bison topped the cup table and therefore surely go into the semi-finals as favourites. Every dog however has their day and with us being the under dog in this two legged encounter I wouldn’t the result is already decided.
Coming into this game there must have been a little scare in the Bison camp when Cardiff’s netminder left the club with immediate effect and straight away rumours started circulating about Stevie Lyle’s departure from Basingtoke and return to Wales. Cardiff quashed those rumours with their own media release very quickly but there’s no doubt Lyle is the linchpin of Basingstoke’s team and his departure or injury would have a drastic effect on their results.
The Jets take the confidence of a four point weekend into the game after a convincing and clinical win over Sheffield on Saturday night and a battled out win at Telford following a tough journey up to their rink.
Of course we’d like to repeat the success of 2011 and add the first trophy of the season to the silverware collection at the Hangar so we need 120 minutes of good hockey. We know what the Bison bring to the table and they’ve strengthened again with the signing of Nicky Watt since our last meeting so it’s all about being up for the challenge and playing the systems right. The team that does that best of this series will rightly take a place in the final and whichever team it is I’m sure they will have to battle hard through the semi-finals to get there.
Enjoy the game
My team, your team, OUR TEAM