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Ice hockey: Raiders 3 Basingstoke 4

PUBLISHED: 20:04 14 October 2018

Raiders took on Basingstoke Bison at Romford's Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre (pic Lee Power)

Raiders took on Basingstoke Bison at Romford's Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre (pic Lee Power)

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Everyone Active Raiders fell to their fourth successive defeat in National League Division One against defending champions Basingstoke on Sunday night.

The home side managed to get their noses in front early in the second period but then conceded three times in three minutes to hand momentum back to the Bison, who were in no mood to relinquish their grip after that.

And although Raiders got back to within one in the final minute, it was not to be as they were left empty handed for the second weekend in a row.

Alex Mettam kicked out a low shot from Dan Scott in a lively opening and held on to a blue line blast from the former Bison defenceman soon after.

But Raiders, wearing their red warm-up jerseys in support of chosen charity Saint Francis Hospice, saw Blaho Novak called for roughing Elliot Dewey in a corner and Michael Gray had to be alert to make a pair of saves from Adam Jones through traffic, before taking a high shot to the right shoulder.

Gray was able to continue after some treatment and Raiders killed off the penalty, with Novak going close to stuffing the puck past Mettam on his return to the ice.

Sean Barry had a drive kicked away by the Bison goalie, but John Connolly then turned the puck over on his own blue line when attempting a 360-degree turn and was grateful to see Gray thwart Alex Sampford’s one-timer with a pad save.

Jake Sylvester scuffed a close-range attempt as Raiders moved forward again with purpose, but then Liam Chong was called for a trip in mid-ice to hand Bison their second power play of the night.

Bison moved the puck well but they could not set up a clear chance as Raiders defended well.

The tempo of play remained high, but Raiders fell foul of referee Tom Stephenson again in the penultimate minute when Sylvester was called for tripping, although it looked a bit harsh on the winger.

Raiders survived until the break, but that meant they had gone 113 minutes and one second without finding the net themselves, since John Connolly had put them 4-0 up at Streatham.

They did not have to wait much longer to cheer a goal, though, as Gray kicked out Michal Klejna’s left-wing blast early in the middle session and Aaron Connolly went close with a wraparound attempt, before Chong tipped in Juraj Huska’s centring feed, ending a drought spanning 116.33 of play.

A hooking call against Hallam Wilson gave Raiders their first power play but they wasted half of it trying to bring the puck out of their own end.

And after Sylvester lifted a shot just over the crossbar, they saw the visitors counter and level while shorthanded, as Gray denied Liam Morris but Richard Bordowski stuffed the rebound home.

Morris was called for slashing soon after, but Novak also departed on an interference minor and Bison took the lead during the 4-on-4 as Klejna scored with a wristshot from the left face-off circle, after Gray had denied Tommy Ralph’s blast with a blocker save.

And it was 3-1 soon after both sides returned to full strength as Wilson pounced on a loose puck and fired it into the roof of Gray’s net, forcing Raiders to call a timeout.

The last thing Raiders needed was another penalty, but Filip Sedivy was called for high sticks after catching Ralph along the boards, then Scott picked up a slashing minor while defending the power play, leaving Bison with a brief 5-on-3 chance.

Gray did well to hold a close-range blast from Bordowski as Raiders survived the shorthanded spell, then denied Sampford with a smart stick save in the 35th minute.

And Bison were caught with too many men on the ice towards the end of the period, handing the hosts a chance to try and force their way back into proceedings.

Matt Turner almost forced the puck past Mettam, but Raiders did not get a clear look and Aaron Connolly saw a backhand effort fly wide of the far post just after the penalty expired, leaving them with a mountain to climb in the final period.

They gave themselves early hope, just 89 seconds after the restart, as Sedivy scooped the puck over a grounded Mettam, only to see the goal originally credited to team-mate Novak.

But an interference call against Ayliffe handed the initiative back to Bison as Bordowski’s wristshot from the right beat an unsighted Gray to make it 4-2 just 80 seconds later.

Novak was then handed a 2+10 penalty for boarding for a hit on Wilson, but Mettam had to make a sharp pad save to deny Huska at the far post.

The game then began to drift somewhat, with Raiders coach Sean Easton giving ice time to prospects Brandon Webster and Tommy Huggett in the closing 10 minutes.

But Gray did well to hold a shot from Adam Jones, before Ayliffe forced a blocker save from Mettam when JJ Pitchley’s hit on a Bison defenceman freed the puck up in the zone.

Pitchley was then called for slashing, but Huska forced Mettam into action again from Scott’s centre while Raiders were shorthanded and Novak also had a shot saved on his return.

Raiders removed Gray for an extra skater and then saw Chris Cooke called for tripping, with Huska firing a low slapshot through the pads of Mettam with 50 seconds left.

And the hosts almost snatched a last-gasp leveller as Sylvester got in on the Bison net, but could not capitalise.

Scorers, Raiders: Juraj Huska* 1+1, Liam Chong 1+1, Filip Sedivy* 1, Dan Scott 0+2, Blaho Novak 0+1, Jake Sylvester 0+1.

Bison: Richard Bordowski 2+1, Hallam Wilson 1, Michal Klejna 1, Liam Morris 0+2, Elliot Dewey 0+1, Ashley Tait 0+1, Alex Sampford 0+1, Russ Cowley 0+1.

Shots on goal: Michael Gray (R) 14-18-9=41-4, Alex Mettam (B) 9-4-12=25-3.

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