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Raiders coach Easton praises key players

PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 22:50 12 December 2018

Michael Gray denies David Millner (pic John Scott)

Michael Gray denies David Millner (pic John Scott)

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Everyone Active Raiders head coach Sean Easton paid tribute to some of his key players following another four-point weekend in National League Division One.

Raiders skate off after scoring an empty net goal against Bracknell (pic John Scott)Raiders skate off after scoring an empty net goal against Bracknell (pic John Scott)

Raiders skated to a 5-2 win at leaders Swindon on Saturday, then came from two goals down to beat Bracknell 4-2 back in Romford the following night.

Captain Aaron Connolly netted in both games, despite playing on defence in place of the absent Callum Wells, while Michael Gray faced a total of 90 shots over the course of the two matches.

Easton said: “Michael has been unreal all weekend. To concede only four goals against the top two teams, and put nine past them, back to front it’s a great performance.

“Aaron did a good job playing an offensive defenceman role. It’s easy when you’ve got three set lines and people are used to playing with each other.

“Aaron did a really good job for us.”

With Connolly dropping back to the blue line, young forward Brandon Ayliffe was moved up to play alongside Ashley Jackson and Blaho Novak and finished the weekend with five assists.

Last season’s Raider of the Year was a constant menace to opposition defencemen with his hard-skating, pressure play, and Easton noted: “He works so hard all the time. It’s good that he’s getting some credit now for it.”

GB hockey Olympian Jackson capped off the weekend with an empty-net goal against the Bees, after Ayliffe had battled to win the puck in his own zone and move it on to his team-mate.

And Easton praised the impact of the 30-year-old, who now has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 11 appearances in a gold and blue jersey.

He said: “Ashley is a true professional, he approaches the game the right way on the ice, he’s clever and he works well with his linemates.”

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