Ice Hockey: Defining weekend for Raiders says Ranson
PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 December 2019
Everyone Active Raiders face a crunch weekend ahead of Christmas as they look to bring some festive cheer to their supporters.
Sean Easton's men take on basement club Leeds Chiefs on Saturday (7pm), before hosting Peterborough Phantoms at the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday (5.15pm).
Raiders enjoyed a 6-3 home win over Hull last weekend, as Ethan James shone on his debut, but lost 6-4 in Peterborough a day later.
And with the new Leeds rink not opening until January, with ice hockey not being played there until February, they will face the Chiefts at Planet Ice Coventry as both look to start stringing results together.
Sam Zajac's side have three games in hand on the Raiders and only sit five points behind them. And forward Jacob Ranson believes the clash with Leeds could well define their season as they look to make the play-offs in the National League.
"This match is season-defining. If we lose, then Leeds are in a good position and will fancy their chances of catching us in the league," said the 24-year-old former Romford junior.
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"We must win and start stringing more regular results together. We've shown in glimpses the team we can be, but we've also shown how bad we can be if we don't take the game into our own hands."
Leeds have lost the likes of James Archer, Radek Meidl and Brodie Jensson in the last week but signed bright young talent Lewis Houston.
It didn't seem to phase them as they played with 12 skaters and enjoyed a four-point weekend with two victories over Basingstoke Bison.
"They'll be high on confidence from that weekend. Sometimes a short bench can bring the best out of a team and bring out the character among the depth players," added Ranson.
"It will be a tough match and we know that as they have a great goalie (Sam Gospel) that shut us out at the Sapphire earlier this season.
"We should also take confidence from the Hull clash on Saturday and somewhat from the Peterborough game, although silly mistakes cost us in that match."
Defenceman Dan Fuller could be set to make his debut this weekend after his registration was upheld last week following his signing.
But they will most likely remain without goalie Michael Gray for the weekend as long-term injuries to Ross Connolly, Callum Burnett and Brad Windebank rule them out.