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London Raiders caught short at Chelmsford

PUBLISHED: 10:01 12 December 2016

JJ Pitchley in action for London Raiders at Chelmsford (pic John Scott)

JJ Pitchley in action for London Raiders at Chelmsford (pic John Scott)

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Chelmsford 8 London Raiders 2

Michael Gray (right) shares a joke with Jack Cooper during London Raiders' win over MK Thunder on Saturday (pic John Scott)Michael Gray (right) shares a joke with Jack Cooper during London Raiders' win over MK Thunder on Saturday (pic John Scott)

Understrength London Raiders were sent to defeat by National League leaders Chelmsford in a penalty-littered contest last night.

Raiders had won both meetings between the two sides in the cup earlier this season and travelled to the Riverside Ice Arena on the back of a 6-3 win over MK Thunder the night before, but with only 11 skaters available.

Goalie Michael Gray had announced on social media that he was leaving the club before face-off, but Raiders opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Jacob Ranson found himself skating clear on goal and beat Sonny Phillips in the Chieftains net.

And Cameron Bartlett was called for interference soon after, with Danny Hammond and JJ Pitchley receiving minor penalties after a disagreement and Chelmsford import Lukas Zatopek and Sean Barry also binned on hooking penalties.

But former Raiders import Juraj Huska broke clear to net a shorthanded equaliser and put the hosts ahead during the same penalty kill, firing home from Liam Chong’s pass, before Darren Brown made it 3-1 with another shorthanded effort.

Shellshocked Raiders called a timeout after that triple whammy and survived until the end of the opening period, but then lost Marek Nahlik and Stewart Tait to successive hooking penalties after the restart.

Raiders closed the gap to a single goal, though, when Ross Connolly let fly with a big slapshot from the blue line and Nahlik was credited with the final touch, before Sam Roberts went close to levelling.

Chong, Ranson and Chieftains newcomer Carl Graham all made trips to the penalty box, before the home side went 4-2 up as Huska completed his hat-trick during a spell of 4-on-4.

Chieftains struck again soon after as Chong netted, with Raiders losing Tom Davis to a tripping penalty early in the final period.

Huska converted on the powerplay for his fourth and Chelmsford’s sixth goal of the night, before tempers boiled over following a hit on Chong.

Huska, Barry and Pitchley were all given roughing minors, which left Raiders on a powerplay, and Graham was called for slashing moments later and a delay of game minor with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Chieftains went 7-2 up with their fourth shorthanded goal of the night from Matt Turner and Sylvester netted number eight for the hosts, before Bartlett and Pitchley dropped the gloves at the restart.

Raiders ended up on another powerplay, as Bartlett was given a total of six minutes in penalties to Pitchley’s double minor, but Chieftains went closest as Anthony Leone rang the crossbar.

Callum Wells was then binned for roughing to give Raiders a 5-on-3 advantage in the closing stages, with Oliver Baldock given a subsequent penalty for elbows and Grant Bartlett handed a 2+10 penalty for checking from behind for a hit on Thomas Beesley, before Zatopek was called for tripping with only 21 seconds left on the clock.

Chelmsford: Juraj Huska* 4 Liam Chong 1+3 Matt Turner 1+1 Darren Brown 1 Jake Sylvester 1 Alex Staples 0+3 Danny Hammond 0+2 Carl Graham 0+1 Sonny Phillips 0+1.

Raiders: Jacob Ranson 1 Marek Nahlik* 1 JJ Pitchley 0+1 John Connolly 0+1 Ross Connolly 0+1 Thomas Beesley 0+1.

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