‘Mighty’ Durham Wasps left stung by Raiders not once, but twice in same campaign
PUBLISHED: 17:30 17 April 2020
When Romford Raiders beat Durham Wasps in the Benson & Hedges Cup in September 1992, they ended a 55-game unbeaten home record of their rivals.
Defeating the two-time defending Heineken League and play-off champions 8-6 on their own ice sent shockwaves through British ice hockey and, as fate would have it, the teams would meet again in April 1993.
Durham had finished towards the bottom of the Premier Division table, with Raiders fifth in Division One, and the two were grouped with Basingstoke and Swindon in the play-offs.
Raiders lost 13-5 in the North East on a Wednesday night, then 8-5 in Swindon and 10-4 at home to Basingstoke, so had nothing but pride to play for when the Wasps arrived at Rom Valley Way for another midweek meeting.
Gord Jeffrey’s men skated to an 8-3 win, but that is half the story.
They led 4-3 early in the final period and, when Durham had two players binned by Finnish referee Kri Aarvala, scored two power play goals to widen the gap to three.
Wasps lost their discipline, with Michael Tasker binned for slashing Jeffrey, before Tari Suwari and Chris Norton clashed in one of the corners and were ejected, along with Raiders goalie Paul Cast and Durham defenceman John Hutley.
Other minor penalties were handed out, leaving three Raiders and six Wasps sidelined, and Jeffrey scored twice more to complete his hat-trick and make it 8-3.
Tasker and Ivor Bennett took further penalties for attacks on Jeffrey, which left the visitors with only their goalie and two other players eligible to continue.
Aarvala had no option but to abandon the match in the 57th minute, with Bennett assessed a gross misconduct penalty for refusing to leave the ice, instead lying in the centre circle.
The result stood in Raiders’ favour, while Durham received no further punishment and avoided relegation when the league was restructured in the summer.
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Defenceman Shaun McFadyen claimed a goal and an assist in a famous Raiders win, which he was happy to recall.
He said: “We got no protection from the refs up there. I was cross-checked in the face, I had a bucket of water thrown at me when I was lining up for a face-off in front of the bench. They beat us up.
“But the Rom Valley Way crowd was amazing. They were right up behind the nets, I think two or three deep at the clock end, it was so packed and the atmosphere was superb.
“We’d beaten them at their place at the start of the season, ending their unbeaten home record of 55 games. Winning in Durham was huge. And to beat them for a second time that season, at home in the play-offs, was great for us.
“They were the mighty Durham Wasps, you’d see them on TV. It was a crazy night, but we never got the praise we deserved for beating them because everyone was talking about what they did than what we did. That was my only annoyance. It spoilt our victory a bit and left a bitter taste.
“Rick Brebant was prolific in the Premier Division, they had two import defencemen. Pound for pound there were way better than us, apart from our import defenceman (Rob Stewart).
“They chopped and chopped at Herb (Jeffrey) and I remember Troy (Walkington) changed the power play, so we had Stewy and Whis (Dave Whistle) on the point, doing what they wanted, passing or shooting, me and Tari in the corners, and Herb doing his thing.
“I remember seeing Tari punch Brebant square in the face in the corner. It was ‘bang’ and his head went back and his visor was up.
“Chris Norton dropped the gloves and jumped in, but he didn’t want to fight Tari, he was just wrestling and grabbing him and sticking his hand in Tari’s face.
“We outfought and outworked them and sometimes you have to be classy in defeat. For a team of their stature, for the players to embarrass themselves like that, with Ivor Bennett lying at centre ice, refusing to get off. I’ve still got visions of him lying there, with me thinking ‘what is happening?’ and the crowd jeering him.”
Raiders: Gord Jeffrey 3+2, Dave Whistle 2+2, Shaun McFadyen 1+1, Marcus Cast 1, Tari Suwari 1, Rob Stewart 0+4.
Shots on goal: Raiders 39 Durham 22. Penalty minutes: Raiders 55 Durham 93.
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