Ice Hockey: Raiders 3 Peterborough 2
- Credit: Archant
Everyone Active Raiders came from behind to claim an excellent National League Division One win over the Phantoms at Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday.
Jake Sylvester’s 54th minute goal earned the home side the points, as another large crowd created a lively atmosphere to whet the appetite for the forthcoming play-off season.
Phantoms, having skated to a 4-3 win in Streatham the night before, came out in their home jerseys, forcing Raiders to wear their away blues.
But Ollie Baldock had the first shot on goal of the night, forcing a save from Jordan Marr, before big hits from Mason Webster and Brandon Ayliffe roused the home fans further.
Corey McEwen sent a shot from the top of the left face-off circle bobbling wide of the far post before JJ Pitchley was called for a late hit and Phantoms thought they had scored straight from the restart, only for the effort to be waved off due to a man in the crease.
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Gray saved from Glenn Billing, before a scuffle in front of the home net led to a holding penalty against Sean Barry and gave Phantoms 62 seconds of 5-on-3.
Petr Stepanek was left down on the ice when play restarted but there was no call made after referee Paul Brooks consulted his linesman, however Phantoms converted on the power play as Billing tapped in a nice passing move at the far post.
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Raiders avoided any further damage, killing off Barry’s minor, and Gray’s blocker save thwarted McEwen, while captain Aaron Connolly shot over at the other end.
Juraj Huska found open ice to thud a slapshot into the pads of Marr, with the follow-up finding side netting, before Phantoms countered and put the puck past Gray, only for it to be ruled out again for a man in the crease.
Raiders applied more pressure towards the end of the opening period, with Matt Turner and Connolly forcing Marr into saves, before Sylvester drilled a long-range effort into the chest of the Phantoms goalie in the final seconds.
The middle session was only seconds old when Huska found the puck on the end of his stick in the high slot, but a scuffed shot on the fresh ice was steered aside by Marr.
But Martins Susters then saw his redirected effort kicked out by Gray, who was incensed when referee Brooks did not call the Peterborough player for an additional slash on his pad.
Pitchley ripped a low shot wide of the far post, while Jack Cooper sent a wristshot from the right point into the belly of Marr, after Billing had steered the puck wide of Gray’s left-hand post inbetween times.
And Gray held on to efforts from Tom Norton and James Ferrara, as well as smothering a Jarvis Hunt snap shot, as Phantoms enjoyed some time in the offensive zone.
Raiders rallied as Turner forced a turnover just inside the Peterborough blue line and Webster fired into the glove hand of Marr, but Gray had to make blocker and glove saves from McEwen and Susters, who appeared to catch Ayliffe with a high stick in his follow-through.
And Gray held on at point-blank range when Ales Padelek was found in the low slot but didn’t make the firmest of connections on the pass, reprieving Raiders who were being urged to “wake up” by some of their supporters.
The call was heeded seconds later, though, as Connolly broke on the left and saw an effort blocked, with stay-at-home defenceman Barry popping up with a shot on the turn from between the circles for an unlikely goal.
Phantoms were given a power play chance just past the midway mark, though, as Connolly was called for hooking Nathan Pollard in a fight for the puck on halfway.
James White deflected one effort wide, while trying to screen Gray, who produced a smart stick save to deny Will Weedon.
But Padelek restored Peterborough’s lead with just six seconds left on the penalty with a stunning, sharp-angled finish over Grays’ glove hand and under the crossbar.
Raiders were given their first power play opportunity of the night with just over three minutes remaining in the period when Connolly was hooked in mid-ice by James Ferrara, who was annoyed to see Blaho Novak escape without a call after a shoulder barge.
But the home side struggled to get much going with the extra man and then went on the penalty kill at the start of the final period when Dan Scott was called for roughing.
They managed to survive on this occasion, then saw Turner and Scott denied by a Marr double save, before Gray held on to McEwen’s left-wing effort.
Play swung from end to end with few whistles, but Raiders were back on terms when Connolly and Novak put pressure on the Phantoms net and Huska squeezed a loose puck home from a tight angle before celebrating wildly.
And they took the lead with just over six minutes remaining when Filip Sedivy sent the puck off the end boards and then helped Sylvester force it home as Marr scrambled to get back into position.
A roughing call against Cooper gave Phantoms a power play chance to end the game, with Norton thudding a drive into the gut of Gray after Marr was pulled for an extra skater.
Barry and McEwen then clashed to pick up further penalties in the final minute, but Gray held on to another shot from Norton as Raiders held on for a fine win.
Raiders: Sean Barry 1, Juraj Huska* 1, Jake Sylvester 1, Aaron Connolly 0+2, Filip Sedivy* 0+1.
Phantoms: Glenn Billing 1, Ales Padelek* 1, James Ferrara 0+2, Tom Norton 0+2.
Shots on goal: Michael Gray (R) 17-12-12=41-2, Jordan Marr (P, 59.09) 10-12-8=30-3 Empty net (0.51) 0-0.