After a long season, League 1 2015-16 edition will come to a close this weekend, with the League 1 playoffs taking place. We will see the top 2 teams from each conference compete to be crowned the All Ireland champion of 2015-16. As we did with the league cup, we're going to preview the quarter final match ups.
QF 1 - Clare Waves vs Dublin Wolves
These two sides met two weeks ago in the League Cup semi-final, whereby the Wolves narrowly progressed following a shootout, and became the first side to beat the Waves this season. We'd expect this encounter to be no different and again be a very close tie over the two games, and could easily go either way. The Waves will once again be hoping top scorer Tomas Pastorek has a good weekend and carry his team through the playoffs. The Wolves, meanwhile will be hoping they can get through the quarter finals without the suspended Ross Killen, as he has now accumulated too many PIM, but he will be back for the Sunday games. The Wolves will be relying on their other key players, namely Dan Matveyeff and Roman Brocko.
QF 2 - Longford Hawks vs West Coast Pirates
The Hawks will be one of the favourites heading into the weekend following their success in the cup two weeks ago. The Hawks remain unbeaten this season but will be without their top scorer Ivars Abramovs for the quarter finals after now accumulating too many PIMs, and picking up a two game suspension. Therefore the Hawks will be relying on their secondary scorers in Robert Puvak and Rolands Stavausis to get them thorugh the quarter finals. The Pirates meanwhile will be in a great position to cause an upset. They will be looking for big games from Vaclav Hornak and Michal Holub to have a chance of progressing.
QF 3 - Waterford Vikings vs Northern Cyclones
This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides. Both the Vikings who won the South conference and Cylones who finished as North runners up will be out with a point to prove following quarter final exits in the League Cup two weeks ago. The Vikings who have relied on good goaltending all season will be looking to Marek Kosar to once again be their key man, while hoping that top-scorer Stan Skorepa can lead the offence. The Cyclones meanwhile possess League 1's top scorer in David Sally and will be looking for him to produce again like he has all season. With both sides never meeting before this will be a tough match up to call.
QF 4 - Armagh Stars vs Cork Wolfpack
These two sides have also never met before, and therefore too will be difficult to call. The Stars won the North Conference and will be looking to show the rest of the conferences what the North is capable of. Stars coach, Stephen Lynch, says "the Stars are really looking forward to this year’s playoffs, and we are expecting cork to be a strong matchup." He also views that adapting to the bigger playing surface as a key to success this weekend. Meanwhile, Wolfpack coach, Hugh Bancroft will be looking to lead his team through this tough encounter. Both teams netminding has been on terrific form this season, so expect a low scoring encounter.
Good luck to all teams this weekend and we look forward to an exciting weekend of inline hockey. The full schedule for the weekend is below:
Saturday 21st May
10:00 - QF1 - 1st leg - Clare Waves vs Dublin Wolves
11:00 - QF2 - 1st leg - Longford Hawks vs West Coast Pirates
12:00 - QF3 - 1st leg - Waterford Vikings vs Northern Cyclones
13:00 - QF4 - 1st leg - Armagh Stars vs Cork Wolfpack
14:00 - QF1 - 2nd leg - Clare Waves vs Dublin Wolves
15:00 - QF2 - 2nd leg - Longford Hawks vs West Coast Pirates
16:00 - QF3 - 2nd leg - Waterford Vikings vs Northern Cyclones
17:00 - QF4 - 2nd leg - Armagh Stars vs Cork Wolfpack
Sunday 22nd May
9:00 - P1 - loser QF1 vs loser QF2
10:00 - P2 - loser QF3 vs loser QF4
11:00 - SF1 - winner QF1 vs winner QF2
12:00 - SF2 - winner QF3 vs winner QF4
13:00 - 7/8th - loser P1 vs loser P2
14:00 - 5/6th - winner P1 vs winner P2
15:00 - 3rd place - loser SF1 vs loser SF2
16:00 - final - winner SF1 vs winner SF2