Cup of delight for Raiders
PUBLISHED: 22:11 31 March 2013 | UPDATED: 22:11 31 March 2013
NL Cup final 2nd leg: Chelmsford 5 Romford Raiders 4 (Romford win 12-8 on aggregate)
Raiders claimed the National League Cup silverware after another ding-dong derby with the Chieftains.
Leading 8-3 after a dominant display on home ice the night before, the visitors looked set for an away win at the Riverside after Shaun Yardley’s goal put them 3-1 up in the middle period.
But the hosts grabbed their second in the 46th minute, then netted three times in 85 seconds late on as tempers began to fray.
Raiders had to play the last 3:45 shorthanded after Andrius Kaminskas was given a match penalty for a check to the head, but they had the final word as player-coach Damny Marshall fired into an empty net, after Ryan Bainborough was pulled for an extra skater in the closing seconds.
Shane Kemp denied James Ayling, Gary Clarke and Alex Green in the opening minutes, while Frankie Harvey fired Romford’s best chance just wide on a 3-on-1.
A tripping call against Juraj Huska gave Chieftains the first powerplay of the night and they opened the scoring just as the penalty expired as Ross Brears found Danny Hammond at the far post to tap in.
Kemp thwarted Julius Sinkovic at close range on the next shift before Romford’s AJ Smith and Harvey went close with backhand shots.
But Raiders had Kemp to thank for a good pad save on Gary Clarke before Dan Wright was binned for holding Huska, whose centring feed was deftly touched inside the far post by Harvey on the powerplay to level it up at the break.
Clarke put a good chance wide after the restart, while Kemp held onto Hammond’s wrist shot and gloved away a Brears effort.
But Harvey and Smith forced Ben Clements into action at the other end before Raiders took the lead at 27:16 when Julian Smith’s hit on Sinkovic freed the puck for Harvey to send Huska up the right boards before picking out Marshall to apply the finish.
Huska and Smith were foiled by Clements on breakaway chances before he was forced off by injury, after Shaun Wallis had sent a Chieftains defenceman crashing into his own goalie.
Bainborough came off the bench, but was beaten just 20 seconds later as Huska and Marshall combined to tee up Yardley for a simple finish.
That made it 11-4 on aggregate and when Sinkovic converted Clarke’s pass with a neat finish it seemed little more than a consolation.
But Hammond tied things up on the night from Ayling’s centre with five minutes left and Sinkovic teed up a one-timer for Clarke, after AJ Smith and JJ McGrath failed to take chances at the other end.
Sinkovic was left on the ice after being caught by Kaminskas, before Ryan Giles and Michael Ranby dropped the gloves for a quick wrestle.
And Hammond made it 5-3 just 13 seconds into the Kaminskas major penalty, forcing Marshall to call a timeout to settle his troops.
Kemp kicked out another Clarke drive as Chelmsford sensed an historic comeback, before Raiders managed to clear their zone and waste valuable seconds.
Chieftains used their timeout with 44 seconds to go, withdrawing Bainborough, but the move backfired as Marshall claimed his 1,503rd point in club colours to seal his third trophy in charge.
Attention now turns to the play-offs, with Raiders due to go head-to-head with bogey team Bracknell next weekend.
Whether or not these Essex rivals get to meet with more silverware on the line later this month remains to be seen.
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