Ice hockey: Bracknell 5 Raiders 2 (6-3 on agg)
PUBLISHED: 20:52 24 March 2019 | UPDATED: 20:52 24 March 2019
Everyone Active Raiders saw their season come to a disappointing early end with defeat in Bracknell on Sunday.
Having been held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their National League Division One play-off quarter-final on Saturday, Raiders were left to rue a frantic two and a half minute spell around the midway mark, when they conceded three times and were left with a mountain to climb.
And Bees went on to secure a semi-final date with regular season champions Swindon, while Peterborough and Basingstoke will meet in the other last-four tie.
Raiders had lost 6-3, 6-4, 4-2 and 4-2 on their four previous trips to The Hive and Michael Gray was called into action in the first minute to deny Roman Malinik from Aidan Doughty’s centre and also kept out Ivan Antonov’s right-wing shot.
But Raiders fell behind in the sixth minute as Malinik netted from Doughty and Brendan Baird assists.
The visitors went on the power play seconds later after Scott Spearing was called for high sticks and Dan Scott’s hard shot went close.
And Aaron Connolly fired too high after Doughty was binned for hooking to hand Raiders a second power play midway through the opening period.
Antonov was the next Bracknell player to fall foul of referee Stefan Matthews, picking up a high sticking penalty, and Filip Sedivy skated up ice and forced Dean Skinns into a save.
Ben Paynter fired straight at Gray after Bees returned to full strength, before a hooking penalty against Brandon Ayliffe gave the home side their first power play chance.
Stuart Mogg fired across the face of Gray’s net while Antonov teed up Shaun Thompson, whose effort was blocked by a Raider.
And after Ayliffe’s penalty expired, Juraj Huska raced away on the right to force Skinns to block at the other end of the rink.
Liam Chong laid a good hit on Bees captain Ryan Sutton, with Ayliffe firing the last chance of the period too high for Raiders.
But Gray was first of the two goalies into action in the middle session to repel Josh Martin’s low shot from the right wing and he also kept out Joe Baird’s blue line effort.
Tyler Vankleef also went close for Bees with a wraparound attempt, before Spearing was dumped to the ice by a hard hit and Sutton shot wide of the target.
But the hosts doubled their lead on the night on the power play, after Ayliffe was called for hooking, with a goal from Mogg.
And it was 3-0 just 32 seconds later as Harvey Stead beat Gray and the task got even harder for Raiders as Bracknell claimed a third goal in just 2.32 of playing time through Spearing to move 5-1 up on aggregate.
Jake Sylvester had a shot knocked away by Skinns before Raiders finally broke their duck on the night in the 37th minute through Huska, assisted by Chong.
And the visitors struck again less than 90 seconds later as Sylvester beat Skinns, to suggest the tie might not be over yet.
Bees made a quick start to the final period, though, looking to extinguish any hopes Raiders might have had of an unlikely comeback, with Doughty firing wide, Vankleef having a shot blocked and Thompson forcing Gray into a save.
Paynter also had a shot blocked by the Raiders goalie, while Malinik missed the target as the home side kept the pressure on.
But Ollie Baldock raced away down the left wing to see a shot blocked, before Gray denied Mogg and Malinik shot too high, before also being thwarted by the Raiders goalie from Antonov’s cross pass.
Raiders were left shorthanded when Matt Turner was binned for tripping with just over 11 minutes remaining in the match, with Vankleef converting on the power play to open up a three-goal gap.
A tripping call against Spearing gave Raiders a chance to answer straight back on their own power play, but Skinns kept out a low left-wing shot from Huska before the home side were back at five skaters.
Gray saved from Brendan Baird, before Skinns blocked another Huska attempt as the match entered its final five minutes.
And Huska was just wide with a long hard shot, while Ayliffe was denied by Skinns after Vankleef had gone close with a good shot inbetween times as the clock ran down on Raiders.
Gray denied James Galazzi and Paynter in the closing stages and a roughing call against Sedivy summed up the night for Raiders as their season came to an early end.