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Ice hockey: No easy games says Raiders coach Easton

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 September 2018

Raiders celebrate their win over Streatham (pic John Scott)

Raiders celebrate their win over Streatham (pic John Scott)

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Everyone Active Raiders coach Sean Easton does not expect any easy games in National League Division One this season, writes Lee Power.

Raiders head to Peterborough on Saturday, before hosting Invicta at Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday (5.30pm).

And head coach Easton says his team have to be ready to be play from the drop of the puck every night.

He said: “Every game is hard. There is no weekend when we can turn around and say ‘there’s two points there’.

“I don’t think Peterborough are as strong as last year, but they will be organised. Slava (Koulikov) has them well-drilled, but we’ve got the players we need to win a game. We had success there last year.

“Invicta are a much-improved team. They’ve got scoring threats and it’s going to be a really good game. This league will be dictated by who has the best power plays and penalty kills.”

Raiders began their campaign with a 6-4 loss in Bracknell, before skating to a 3-2 win over Streatham on home ice, despite picking up a string of minor penalties.

And Easton says they need to stay out of the penalty box if they are to be successful this term, adding: “We’ve got speed, we’ve got skill, we’ve got goalscorers. We’re a threat, but we put ourselves under the cosh by taking dumb penalties.

“It’s discipline. We can’t kill the amount of penalties we’ve killed in the last four games. We haven’t got enough bodies and legs to be able to.

“We can’t play three lines if we keep taking penalties. We’ve got to keep people in the game and stay out of the penalty box. We’ve got to get used to the new rules, stay 5-on-5 and we’ll be fine.”

Goals from Blaho Novak, Liam Chong and import Filip Sedivy’s first for the club had Raiders 3-0 up and cruising against Streatham, before a late wobble in the last seven minutes.

And Easton hailed the display of goalie Michael Gray, who made 35 saves in the win, saying: “I think it’s a different scoreline if he wasn’t playing the way he was.

“Our captain (aaron Connolly) controlled a lot of stuff on the bench and killed penalties fantastically. We’ve got a really good team, potentially the best Raiders team that has iced in a long, long time.

“Every team is good, every team can beat anybody on the day. It’s going to be tough. Whoever wins this league will still lose double-figure games.”

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