Ice Hockey: Basingstoke 4 Raiders 2

Raiders goalie Michael Gray (pic John Scott)

Raiders goalie Michael Gray (pic John Scott) - Credit: Archant

Basingstoke 4 Raiders 2

Everyone Active Raiders let a two-goal lead slip as three power play goals in the final period sent them to defeat on Saturday.

Buoyed by their four-point weekend haul against National League title favourites Hull and Swindon a week earlier, Raiders travelled with a full squad and saw Michael Gray make early saves to deny Liam Morris and Michal Klejna.

Lukas Sladkovsky was called for slashing Morris behind the play, giving Bison the first power play of the night, but George Norcliffe missed a good chance before Hallam Wilson was called for hooking.

Raiders could not capitalise on their power play and then lost JJ Pitchley to a kneeing penalty, with Klejna unable to deflect a pass beyond Gray.

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Pitchley fired against the shoulder of Alex Mettam after returning to the ice but Tom Ralph led a charge for Bison and Gray had to reach behind him to keep the puck out of his net.

Jacob Ranson sent a shot wide for the visitors, while Alex Sampford sent a backhand shot over at the other end of the pad, before Gray saved from Norcliffe.

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Gray thwarted Adam Harding, who was then called for holding the stick, and Ryan Sutton missed a good chance for the shorthanded hosts, before Klejna won the puck and broke at speed to feed Morris, who was denied by the Raiders goalie.

Jack Flynn produced a lovely open ice hit on a Basingstoke player, which had the home crowd calling for a penalty, but was ruled fair by the referee, and the first period ended goalless, with Bison dominating the shot count 13-7.

Gray kicked out a Norcliffe attempt after the restart, before Aaron Connolly broke on the right and just missed the top corner of the net.

But Raiders opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when Sean Barry sent in-form Blaho Novak through and he fired in off Mettam.

Ralph tipped a shot from Bayley Harewood just wide, before Sladkovsky found Novak, who fired over and Flynn was denied by Mettam.

Bison went back on the power play when Pitchley lost an edge and slid into Sampford to earn a tripping penalty, but Norcliffe missed a chance at the far post before Sladkovsky was denied by Mettam.

Dan Scott was binned after Ashley Tait was checked into Gray by Ranson, with Sutton firing a chance wide before Klejna was sent into the boards.

Frustrated Bison saw Harding sent to the box for a faceoff violation but survived the shorthanded spell and then saw Harewood test Gray from Tait's pass.

Mettam held onto a Sladkovsky shot after the Czech forward had charged up the wing but Raiders doubled their lead in the final minute of the period through Ollie Baldock, assisted by Scott and Jake Sylvester, only for Klejna to win the resulting face-off and receive a pass to charge through and reply just 19 seconds later.

Jay King picked up a delay of game minor penalty before the buzzer, though, to give Raiders another power play at the start of the final period.

They were caught with too many men on the ice towards of the power play, though, and handed the home side an advantage, which they capitalised on as Sutton tipped a shot from Jones past Gray to make it 2-2.

Novak and Morris were binned after a clash soon after, with Bison going on the power play when Brandon Ayliffe was called for hooking Norcliffe.

And Bison needed just 17 seconds to make it count as Ralph fired a shot through a crowd to beat Gray, forcing Raiders head coach Sean Easton to call a timeout.

More penalties followed as Scott and Ross Connolly were binned along with Harewood, giving Bison a brief spell of 4-on-3, and Gray held onto a shot from Jones after he combined with Tait.

But Bison opened up a two-goal cushion with their third power play goal of the period when Jones fizzed a shot past Gray and into the top corner to make it 4-2 with just over 10 minutes left on the clock.

A holding penalty against Sutton gave Raiders a power play chance to try and hit straight back, with Marek Malinsky and Scott forcing Mettam into action.

But Callum Wells was then given a 2+10 penalty for a check to the head, as well as a roughing minor alongside Bison's Joshua Kelly, to give the hosts another power play chance.

And although Raiders avoided further damage, time was running out on their hopes, with Gray kicking out Sampford's shot before Mettam thwarted Pitchley's drive to the net.

Gray was removed for an extra skater as the match entered its final two minutes, with Tait and Harding missing the empty net as Bison held on for their win.

Bison: Adam Jones 1+1, Michal Klejna* 1+1, Tom Ralph 1, Ryan Sutton 1, Adam Harding 0+2, Ashley Tair 0+1, Alex Sampford 0+1.

Raiders: Blaho Novak 1, Ollie Baldock 1, Dan Scott 0+1, Jake Sylvester 0+1, Sean Barry 0+1.

Penalty minutes: Bison 18 Raiders 32.

Shots on goal: Alex Mettam (B) 7-13-7=27-2; Michael Gray (R, 58.08) 13-9-18=40-4, empty net (1.52).

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