Pitchley looks for London Raiders boost
- Credit: Archant
Suspended forward already thinking about play-offs
London Raiders bring the curtain down on the National League regular season with a home match against Streatham and trip to Oxford this weekend.
But forward JJ Pitchley is already thinking about the play-offs, when they could well meet either side again over two legs on the weekend of March 25-26.
Pitchley, 23, will be a frustrated onlooker as Streatham visit Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday) and when Raiders travel to the university city to face the Stars a day later due to suspension.
A 10-minute penalty at the end of last weekend’s 4-2 home defeat against Solent saw Pitchley pass a disciplinary threshhold and he admitted: “I’m not too comfortable with watching this weekend as I hate not being able to play.
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“But play-off hockey is the best time of the season besides the first weekend back after a long summer.
“The games get more intense and teams seem to play better.”
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Raiders need to win both matches this weekend to climb above Oxford and claim fourth place, but could slip to sixth if they suffer two losses and Solent win their last two fixtures against Oxford and Invicta.
They let a point slip against the Devils last weekend, after fighting back from two goals down to get back on terms.
Matt Lawday put the visitors ahead with only 25 seconds gone at Lee Valley and Aidan Doughty doubled the advantage early in the second period.
But Alan Lack halved the deficit on a Raiders powerplay and helped set up captain Tom Davis for the equaliser in the 47th minute.
Solent regained the lead with 75 seconds remaining through Doughty, though, and Richard Facey added an empty-net goal after Raiders had withdrawn goalie Euan King for an extra skater.
Pitchley let his frustrations get the better of him at the buzzer to fall foul of referee Tom Stephenson, but cannot wait to get back on the ice in two weeks time.
He added: “I’m looking forward to either Streatham or Oxford. We are capable of beating both teams and moving forward, but equally these are going to be games where we need to knuckle down and play to our strong points.
“We need to get pucks in and pucks out, play physical and cause havoc in other team’s ends.
“Play-off games are tough games and games of mistakes. The team who makes the most normally loses.
“We’ve done fantastically well recently, taking advantage of other team’s mistakes, so here’s hoping we can do the same in the play-offs.”