Pitchley picks top Raiders memories from long playing career on blue line
PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 24 April 2020
Ben Pitchley made more appearances in a Raiders jersey than all but one other player in Romford’s ice hockey history.
The defenceman played in 582 matches in all competitions, second only to Danny Marshall (926), and is 21st on the all-time scoring list with 219 points (59 goals, 160 assists).
And with the 2019/20 season cut short befores its official conclusion due to the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, the 47-year-old picked some of his most memorable.
September 13, 1992 Benson & Hedges Cup Whitley Bay 19 Raiders 6
We lost our dual national (Jeff Winstanley) in a game in Billingham the night before. Tari (Suwari) fought Mark Pallister that night as well.
Whitley had a team full of GB players and great imports. We lost Stewy (Rob Stewart) to a high stick (with the match level at 5-5) and had a line brawl with the kid line on the ice – Me, Marcus Cast, Rich Tomalin, and Simon Thomerson, alongside Gary Cloonan I think.
Tomalin was only 17 years old and kicked the living daylights out of their dual national, Mike Mowbray; Marcus had hold of Mike Rowe, probably the toughest guy in the league at the time, and dropped him with a headbutt!
Thomerson was trading blows with Simon Leach and I had hold of David Longstaff. No-one was going near ‘Moose’ (Cloonan) for obvious reasons.
We had to put our back-up netminder (Terry Bagley) in the penalty box at one stage and Tari scored our last goal and it was like he had just scored the game winner in the Stanley Cup final!
September 27, 1992 Benson & Hedges Cup Durham Wasps 6 Raiders 8
The mighty Durham Wasps, as seen on TV during lunchtime games on Grandstand. The place was packed and so noisy.
We did the warm-up and could hardly hear each other on the ice. I knew I wouldn’t be getting on, which I was quite happy with, as was Simon Thomerson.
We just stopped them playing their game and took our chances really well. Our imports, Stewy, Herbie (Gord Jeffrey) and Whis (Dave Whistle) just played possessed.
Take into account the four senior guys we had in Chris Leggatt, Tari, Moose and ‘Fads’ (Shaun McFadyen) and the rest of us were just face-masked juniors.
We were winning at the end of the second period and got a knock on the dressing room door and the referee tells Troy (Walkington) our goalie Paul Cast had to take the plastic bits off the end of his goalie pads as they were illegal.
It was complete rubbish, but it was just Durham playing mind games! We won the game and then everything becomes a blur. But ever since that day, I know all the words to Tom Cochrane’s ‘Life Is A Highway!’
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February 15, 1997 English League Div 1S Cardiff Capitals 0 Raiders 8
Winning the league was just great. We just ran riot all game. The kids played great that game and it was a great bus journey home. We then played at Haringey on the Sunday, won 6-0 there, went straight back to Romford and stayed in the bar until midnight!
Season 1999/2000 English Premier League Raiders v Isle of Wight
Johan Larsson slashed Timo (Kauhanen) and took him out of the previous game we played and I chased him all around the ice, trying to get him to fight and he wasn’t having any of it.
I remember smoking him on the blue line and as he got up I caught him with probably the best punch, an uppercut, I’ve ever thrown in my life and went straight to the penalty box before the referee had even called the penalty!
April 17, 2005 English Premier League Play-off finals (Coventry) Raiders 6 Slough 4
We lost in the semi-final against Peterborough so had to play Slough in the third-place game.
We ended up going out after the semi-final games with the Slough boys. Alan Blyth decided it was a good idea to jump into the water fountain in the city centre on the way home – to this day I still don’t know how he didn’t kill himself doing it!
Mark Williams and Norm Pinnington had a disagreement over the weekend, off the ice, so they arranged to settle it on the ice on the Sunday.
Normally this game is only watched by the fans of the teams playing in it, but word got around that it was going to kick off so the place was packed!
You could feel the tension in the building during warm-up and both starting netminders (Andy Moffat and Adam Dobson) had words during this as well.
This was my last game before I retired and when the puck finally dropped so did two pairs of gloves and Mark and Norm traded blows like never seen before!
The place went wild, both players got tossed out and we went on to win the game.
My lasting memory of the game was racing up the boards to make a play, knowing Nicky Chinn was going to finish his check on me, but I made the play and got the assist on the goal we scored (Danny Marshall) off my pass.
Oh, and both goalies fought in the end of game handshakes!
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