Blyth pleased with Raiders return
PUBLISHED: 17:30 30 November 2015
Coach glad to pass Oxford test
London Raiders head coach Alan Blyth was pleased to see his team maintain their good form with victory over Oxford at the weekend.
The Lee Valley-based club skated to a 7-4 win over the Stars, with Marek Nahlik’s hat-trick leading the way, to close to within two points of their rivals with two games in hand.
And victory left Raiders five points clear of seventh-placed Solent, altough the Devils have three games in hand on Blyth’s men.
He said: “Oxford have been flying high in the league and they’re always a tough team to play against. They’re more organised than they used to be.
“It could’ve gone either way at the end of the second period, but we were defensively pretty solid until 10 minutes to go.
“We were up 6-2 but took our foot off the pedal a bit. We’ve got to make sure we stay switched on, but it’s good to get a bit of a gap now between teams.”
Ben Ealey-Newman’s powerplay goal gave the visitors the lead, but Michal Oravec levelled just 33 seconds later and Liam Chong put Raiders in front just before the buzzer.
Oravec’s second goal early in the middle period made it 3-1, but Darren Elliott replied with Oxford’s second powerplay goal of the night to keep the match in the balance.
Nahlik netted either side of a powerplay goal from Tom Davis, though, to make it 6-2 and found the empty net to complete his treble after Andrew Cox and Ealey-Newman had given Oxford late hope.
Blyth added: “Our imports are involved in everything, which is what you want from them, and the British guys have been supporting them well.
“Tom Davis has been back as a forward, putting a few points on the board, and Rob Jenner has settled instantly at the back, slotting in next to Jack Cooper. He’s got lots of experience, which is massively helpful.”
Raiders were outshot 49-26, but Blyth – a former goalie himself – had praise for Michael Gray and his team’s defensive work, adding: “Michael has been a lot more focused and is a lot fitter now.
“The guys in front of him are tightening up and limiting the areas where the shots are coming from.”
Saturday’s trip to the Isle of Wight has been postponed after the Ryde Arena suffered damage during recent high winds.
Blyth’s men travel to south London to face Streatham on Sunday, though, and he said: “Streatham is another big test for us, but hopefully we can come up with the two points and push on.
“They’ve got big, wide ice but we’ve played twice there already this season and we need to learn from those games and hopefully get something from them this weekend.”
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