National Division play-off preview | Group B

After the regular season came to a close in the Planet Ice NIHL National Division last weekend, the focus shifts to the play-offs for those that finished in the top eight.

Unlike last season, where a straight quarter-final was played, the eight have been split into two groups and will go head-to-head, home and away over the next three weeks, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the semi-finals.

Group B consists of National Cup champions MK Lightning, the side they beat to get there and the third-seeded Swindon Wildcats, Telford Tigers, who knocked Lightning out of last season’s play-offs as the seventh seed, and last season’s play-off runners-up, Raiders IHC.

Who has the momentum going into the mini-league, and how did each side fare against one other throughout the regular season?

Milton Keynes Lightning

For the second straight season, MK Lightning finished runners-up in the National Division. With winning records against each of their Group B opponents, they are the favourites to progress.

They ended the season by winning 10 of their last 12 games, including victories in both legs of the National League Cup final.

With one piece of silverware already in the bag, MK will be eager to complete a double in the NIHL this season.

  • Record vs Swindon Wildcats – P6 W4 L2 GF 28 GA 17
  • Record vs Telford Tigers – P5 W4 L1 GF 25 GA 12
  • Record vs Raiders IHC – P6 W5 L1 GF 37 GA 17

Swindon Wildcats

Swindon improved their regular season points tally by three this campaign, and secured the third seed in doing so, winning five of their last eight.

They were victorious in their last league meeting against MK Lightning on March 23, they have an incredible record against Telford this season, and a winning run against Raiders IHC.

The Wildcats will be confident of going one better than their quarter-final defeat last season.

  • Record vs MK Lightning – P6 W2 L4 GF 17 GA 28
  • Record vs Telford Tigers – P5 W5 L0 GF 22 GA 9
  • Record vs Raiders IHC – P6 W4 L2 GF 29 GA 21

Telford Tigers

The Tigers are the most in-form side coming into the playoffs, winning six on the bounce to secure 27 wins coming into the post-season.

That momentum could prove valuable, as well as their play-off experience, reaching the semi-finals in the last two seasons.

  • Record vs MK Lightning – P5 W1 L4 GF 12 GA 25
  • Record vs Swindon Wildcats – P5 W0 L5 GF 9 GA 22
  • Record vs Raiders IHC – P5 W3 L1 OTL 1 GF 25 GA 24

Raiders IHC

Last season’s finalists shocked almost everyone on their road to facing off against Leeds Knights, and the Raiders are aiming to do the same as the bottom seed in Group B.

They were on a five-game winning run before the final-day defeat at home to Lightning, but that run did include wins against play-off teams such as Swindon, Peterborough and Bees IHC.

People know from last season not to write this team off, and like the Bees in Group A, they, too, could cause a few upsets this post-season.

  • Record vs MK Lightning – P6 W1 L5 GF 17 GA 37
  • Record vs Swindon Wildcats – P6 W2 L3 OTL 1 GF 21 GA 29
  • Record vs Telford Tigers – P5 W2 L1 OTL 2 GF 24 GA 25

Click here to read a preview of Group A!

PLEASE NOTE: Details of all National Division play-off fixtures can be found here.

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