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Coach Pitchley pleased with progress of younger Raiders in debut league campaign

PUBLISHED: 16:26 30 November 2018

Raiders junior coach Ben Pitchley (pic John Scott)

Raiders junior coach Ben Pitchley (pic John Scott)

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Junior head coach Ben Pitchley is looking forward to bringing the National League Division Two Raiders back to Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre this weekend.

Basingstoke Buffalo are the visitors on Sunday (5.30pm), after Raiders have made the long trip to Cardiff Fire on Saturday.

And Pitchley is looking for his squad to build on a three-game winning streak that has lifted them up to fifth place in the table.

He said: “It will be good to play a home game this Sunday as we would’ve had three road games on the trot.

“We just need to get as many people in to watch and with the Raiders playing away in Invicta, hopefully we can get a good crowd in.”

The young Raiders skated to a 10-1 win over Lee Valley Lions in their last home fixture and go into this weekend’s action on the back of a dramatic 5-3 victory over Swindon at the Link Centre last Sunday.

After falling behind early in the first period, goals 41 seconds apart from Tommy Huggett and Brandon Webster put them 2-1 up.

Swindon struck just past the midway mark to level, then took the lead on a power play with less than eight minutes left.

But Clint Walton squared matters with two minutes to go, before Ewan Hill and Huggett, with an empty net goal, struck in the final minute.

Pitchely added: “Last weekend’s game in Swindon wasn’t great and we played probably the worst we have all season. Yet with just over two minutes to go, something clicked during the timeout and we go and put three goals in the back of the net to win 5-3.

“We had no right to win that game but when the team’s back is against the wall they do come out fighting.”

What is particularly pleasing for Pitchley, who enjoyed a long playing career of his own for the Raiders, is the local talent on the roster, including five prospects doubling up with the first team.

He added: “Guys like Stevie Dunnage, Matt Brown, Matt Hamilton and Abbie Sylvester all played junior hockey in the old rink so know what Romford hockey is all about.

“And now we have the next generation in Tommy Huggett, Dan Hitchings, Brad Windebank, Callum Burnett and Ewan Hill, all 16 and 17-year-olds, just trying to make their marks in senior hockey.”

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