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Smith: Massive weekend for London Raiders

PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 January 2017

London Raiders Julian Smith (left) looks on as Andy Munroe keeps tabs on a Solent rival (pic John Scott)

London Raiders Julian Smith (left) looks on as Andy Munroe keeps tabs on a Solent rival (pic John Scott)

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Defenceman hails four-point haul

London Raiders defenceman Julian Smith hailed his side’s “massive” four-point weekend in the National League, after home and away wins over Solent Devils.

Raiders returned from a three-week break to claim a 5-2 victory at Lee Valley on Saturday, before adding a 2-0 triumph on the south coast the following night.

And Smith, 29, felt it was just what they needed to get 2017 off on a positive note, saying: “We had a bad end to 2016 (three successive defeats), so it was a massive weekend for us coming back.

“We took control early on in Saturday’s game, then sat back a bit, but then stepped it up again. We needed that win to wake up and move forward.”

Thomas ‘Ziggy’ Beesley scored twice in the home fixture, with Slovakian import Slavomir Buda also bagging a brace, before JJ Pitchley’s late breakaway effort sealed the points.

And Smith was delighted to see the young forward claim his first double of the campaign, adding: “Ziggy has been working his socks off and is such an impact player for us, constantly chasing pucks down.

“He deserved his goals. It’s a good confidence boost for him. He’s a massive asset for us and a lot of what he does goes unnoticed by people some times, but the boys on the bench can see what he does.”

Buda broke the deadlock midway through the following night’s return meeting on Solent’s small ice pad, before leading scorer Marek Nahlik clinched victory on his return from a two-game suspension.

The win lifted Raiders above Oxford and Streatham into third place and Smith praised his team-mates, adding: “We knew we would be up to third if we won on Sunday, but Solent are a hard-working team.

“It’s a small rink where they are right on top of you and to reach third place is a huge achievement for London Raiders as they’ve not been in that spot for a few years now.”

The six foot two inch blueliner is hoping Raiders can build on their bright start to the new year, while also getting stronger himself.

Smith missed nine matches with a finger injury sustained while blocking a shot in the 4-0 win at MK Thunder in late October, but has played the last four fixtures.

He said: “It’s still not 100 per cent but it’s getting better. I was using a stress ball to strengthen it, taping it up, icing it, heating it, but it was tight on Monday after two games at the weekend.

“Hopefully it will start getting stronger. Once you start playing you forget about it.”

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