Ice hockey: Hull 5 Raiders 6
PUBLISHED: 20:28 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 20:28 29 February 2020
Aaron Connolly’s late goal earned Everyone Active Raiders a vital victory in the National League on Saturday.
Connolly struck inside the final two minutes to settle the outcome, after the two sides had traded goals throughout, to give a further boost to their bid for a top-eight play-off spot.
The visitors opened the scoring through Ollie Baldock with barely two minutes gone, after a nice interchange of passes with Jake Sylvester.
But after killing off the first penalty of the match, the Pirates hit back to level through Lee Bonner, only to be left shorthanded again soon after.
Sylvester made it 2-1 just 36 seconds into the Raiders power play, assisted by Brandon Ayliffe and Connolly, but Hull squared matters for a second time when a pass from behind the net was finished off by Matty Davies inside the final two minutes of the opening period.
Raiders took their third lead of the night before the break, when Erik Piatak picked out captain Connolly with an excellent pass for a backhand finish into the top of the net, although they lost Lukas Sladkovsky to a slashing minor seconds later.
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And despite Hull not capitalising on their extra man either side of the interval, they made it 3-3 in the 24th minute as Bonner bagged his second goal of the night.
Raiders regained the initiative just before the midway mark as JJ Pitchley got in on the goalscoring act, assisted by Jack Cooper, who was making his 200th league appearance in a gold and blue jersey.
But Bonner completed his hat-trick to make it 4-4 and, after Raiders killed off a hooking penalty against Callum Wells - back in the line-up after completing a six-match suspension - they fell behind in the 39th minute as Jason Hewitt potted Hull's fifth goal of the night.
Raiders were quick to respond, though, as Wells found the net with just four seconds left on the clock to set up an intriguing final period.
A tripping penalty against Ayliffe was successfully killed off, with Raiders surviving another shorthanded spell after Blaho Novak received slashing and roughing minors following a clash with Aaron Smith, who was given a roughing minor.
Novak picked up an additional 10-minute misconduct penalty, though, which ruled him out of the final minutes of the match, with Connolly winning it for Raiders in the closing stages to ensure a happy trip back to Romford, with the two sides meeting against at Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday (5.15pm).