Ice hockey: Bracknell Bees 1 Raiders 2 (OT)
PUBLISHED: 20:45 07 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:06 08 March 2020
Everyone Active Raiders captain Aaron Connolly netted an overtime winner to secure two vital points against National League play-off rivals Bracknell on Saturday.
And the victory opened up a three-point gap over the Bees in the race for the eighth and last play-off spot, with only five games left in the regular season.
Raiders had taken a maximum four points from back-to-back meetings with their opponents only two weeks earlier and Jack Cooper had a long-range shot blocked for the visitors early on, before Josh Smith was denied by Ethan James at close range.
Ryan Webb's right-wing effort was also foiled by James, while Blaho Novak saw his shot blocked by Adam Goss at the other end.
Webb and Cooper tried their luck from distance, to no avail, and Ollie Baldock was stopped by the Bees defence after cutting in from the left.
James then saved from James Galazzi, before Jake Sylvester's left-wing shot was blocked.
Roman Malinik was next to have a shot blocked, with Bees going on the power play after Baldock was called for high sticks.
Dominik Gabaj was off target for the home side, before Baldock's return, and then saw a wraparound attempt thwarted by the Raiders defence.
Sean Barry shot wide fom the left wing, while Jacob Ranson blocked Harvey Stead's effort before Smith broke towards the Raiders net but fired over.
James denied Gabaj at close quarters as the scoreline remained blank at the first break, with Bees dominating the shot count 15-4.
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Novak and Barry called Goss into action in the opening stages of the middle session, while Erik Piatak was off-target with a couple of attempts in quick succession, before Pitchley fired straight at Goss.
But Raiders broke the deadlock in the 28th minute as Sylvester slotted into the bottom left corner of the net, assisted by Callum Wells.
A holding penalty against Cooper was killed off, with Novak and Olegs Lascenko denied by Goss before James kept out Malinik's left-wing shot.
But Bees levelled late in the period through Aidan Doughty, assisted by Malinik and Smith, to set up a tense final frame.
Gabaj and Stuart Mogg were both wide of the mark early in the third period, before Baldock raced away down the left wing and saw a shot deflected wide of the Bees net.
And Gabaj was off target again, before Lukas Sladkovsky had an effort deflect off a Bracknell stick and Bees lost Will Stead to a minor penalty for an icing infrigement.
Piatak shot wide during the power play, but Bees survived and saw Goss stop a blue line drive from Wells and also kept out a Dan Scott effort.
Sladkovsky was next to be denied by Goss, before Galazzi was given a hooking penalty with six minutes left to play.
And Piatak had a long shot blocked before the power play ran out with Brandon Ayliffe seeing a shot from the right saved by Goss once the sides were back at full strength.
Sylvester sent the last chance of normal time wide of the mark with 20 seconds on the clock, before the sides went to an extra period.
And Raiders needed only 29 seconds to find a winner through Connolly, assisted by Piatak, ahead of Sunday's home match against Peterborough Phantoms at the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre in Romford.
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