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London Raiders award-winner believes it's a 'turning point' for hockey

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 May 2017

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley (pic John Scott)

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley (pic John Scott)

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Forward reflects on new playoff format

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley on the attack (pic John Scott)London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley on the attack (pic John Scott)

London Raiders Supporters’ Player of the Year and forward of the year JJ Pitchley, believes the National League’s decision to host a play-off final weekend next season could be a ‘turning point’ for the competition.

Former Romford junior Pitchley was pleased to hear that the play-offs will be extended beyond the current format to crown a national champion, as south and north winners meet after their own post-season across a four-week period.

The 23-year-old former St Edward’s pupil said: “I think it’s a turning point for hockey in the UK.

“More competitive hockey which is what this country has needed for a long time.

“Certainly if we want Great Britain in the Olympics in the coming future.”

Pitchley believes the new 12-team National South league and play-off format will give players, fans and the whole country a new lease of life.

“The addition of 3-on-3 overtime and a shootout will be good for both the fans and players,” he added.

“Games that end in a draw are never great and with 3-on-3 there’s a lot more space and every shot or chance could be the winner.”

The Lee-Valley based outfit will line up in an enlarged division during the 2017-18 campaign, when they will play in the Britton Conference against the likes of Chelmsford, Invicta and Streatham, as well as new arrivals Peterborough and Swindon, who have joined from the disbanded English Premier League.

Teams will play each other twice home and away in their own conference and will also face teams in the Wilkinson conference, which includes ex-EPL duo Basingstoke and Bracknell, plus Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Solent, once home and away to make a 32-game schedule.

The top eight will then qualify for the play-offs, with the first three rounds being regionalised, with home and away two-legged ties.

The south and north finalists will then meet in crossover semi-finals and a grand final during a championship weekend, the dates and location for which are still to be determined.

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