BLOG: SNL title race set to go the distance

BLOG: SNL title race set to go the distance
Champions Kirkcaldy Kestrels are top of the SNL currently, but can they keep their title (Photo courtesy of Kirkcaldy Kestrels)

Champions Kirkcaldy Kestrels are top of the SNL currently, but can they keep their title (Photo courtesy of Kirkcaldy Kestrels)

AS we get further into 2016, the SNL title race looks set to be a battle to the death with most teams in with a decent shout of contention.

For a while there, it looked as though Edinburgh Capitals were going to run away with it. They started their season so well with six straight wins, but the wheels haven’t been so steady.

It would be premature to suggest they’ve well and truly come off at this stage with the games in hand they have (three behind Kirkcaldy Kestrels and five points behind), but they need to return to winning ways.

They’re in the Autumn Cup final and are still scoring plenty of goals, but an inability to finish teams off has crept into their last four league games, which must worry their fans.

Last season, their league hopes came down to the last two games with Kirkcaldy Kestrels and that rampaging start suggested that disappointment had fuelled them.

The 7-5 early season win over the Kestrels set a marker and as those wins kept coming, you wondered if they were laying the foundation for another Grand Slam tilt.

Recent games have suggested they aren’t quite there and as a result, current champions Kestrels have got themselves into pole position and looking stronger as we go on.

The three defeats they’ve picked up have been from teams round about them, but as long as the Caps still have games in hand, the Fife side have to keep winning if they want to retain their title.

But the story of the season has to be North Ayrshire Wild, who started their season later because of their decision to pull out of the Autumn Cup amid shortage of bodies.

Their SNL campaign began with a 19-0 thrashing by the Kestrels and when they were thumped 13-1 at home by Paisley Pirates in the Scottish Cup in their next game, you had to fear the sort of the season they would have.

That’s the view of an outsider, but within the club, they knew that once the players they needed were back in action, it would be a lot better.

How right they were.

One defeat in seven and four victories in a row going into this weekend, including big home wins over Aberdeen Lynx and Edinburgh Capitals, have sent them up there and they’ve become a title contender.

After they play Paisley at home on Saturday, they’ll have one home game left of their season with tricky away trips to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Paisley to come.

You have to hope they’ll be still in the mix, but in a league where 59% of wins have been by the home team in the league this season, they’ll need to dig deep to still be in there.

Of course, there are three other teams hanging on the coat tails, with Paisley, Dundee Comets and Aberdeen only a point behind Edinburgh and in ice hockey, things can change very dramatically.

As quickly as we saw the Capitals tumble from their perch, we could yet see any of those clubs climbing and mounting a late charge.

It’s certainly become much more open than any of us had anticipated just a few weeks ago and you wouldn’t bet against it going to the final minutes of the final period.

As observers, all we can do is watch with great anticipation of how it could play out.

The twists and turns of this particular SNL season begins now. Good luck, everyone!

Craig Anderson

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Kestrels (Photo courtesy of Kirkcaldy Kestrels)

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