Ice Hockey: Raiders 5 Basingstoke Bison 2
PUBLISHED: 19:58 23 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 24 December 2018
Everyone Active Raiders made it a magnificent seven wins in a row with success over defending National League champions Basingstoke.
And Sunday night’s victory at Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre was also a first win for Raiders against the Bison, since they joined from the defunct English Premier League.
Sean Easton’s men – and Raiders supporters – can now enjoy their Christmas, before returning to action on Friday January 4 with a special challenge match against the Military College of South Carolina.
Jake Sylvester had the first chance for Raiders kicked away by Alex Mettam, while Michael Gray denied Ashley Tait at the other end of the rink.
The visitors went on the power play when Dan Scott was called for tripping, but Gray denied Jay King and Adam Jones, before Brandon Ayliffe scored a shorthanded goal from Blaho Novak’s pass to put Raiders ahead.
JJ Pitchley was binned for holding, but the hosts killed off the penalty and Novak had a shot held by Mettam.
Alex Sampford fired wide for Bison, while Richard Bordowski’s effort was blocked by Jack Cooper before Pitchley was called for a late hit in the last minute of the first period.
Gray kept out George Norcliffe before the buzzer, as Bison dominated the shot count 19-6, and denied Jones from the blue line after the restart.
Bordowski shot wide and Paul Petts was also thwarted by Gray as Bison remained on top, before Bordowski was given a late hit minor penalty to put Raiders on the power play.
And they only needed 26 seconds with the man advantage before doubling their lead with a sweet strike from Scott, against his former club.
Mettam denied Filip Sedivy at close range and blocked Aaron Connolly after Gray had kept out a shot from Russ Cowley.
And Raiders went 3-0 up just past the midway mark when Liam Chong and Juraj Huska combined to set up Sylvester and force Bison to call a timeout.
The visitors lost Sampford to a slashing penalty after the restart, but Raiders could not make it count and Gray had to be alert to stop Cowley’s tip from in front of the net.
However, it was 4-0 in the 35th minute as Sylvester struck for the second time and, after Danny Ingoldsby was binned for a late hit, captain Connolly made it 5-0 just 13 seconds into the power play.
A holding penalty against Barry gave Bison the chance to open their account with a power play goal from Bordowski inside the final two minutes of the period.
But the visitors then saw Elliot Dewey handed two minute penalties in the closing seconds, while Tait picked up a 10-minute misconduct, which gave Raiders a four-minute power play chance at the start of the final session.
They were unable to inflict any more damage on the defending champions during that spell, but Bison were running out of time to launch any kind of remarkable comeback to match that from the previous meeting a month earlier in Hampshire, when Raiders let a 5-1 lead slip and lost in overtime.
Juilan Smith was called for interference with 12 minutes left, handing Bison a power play chance, and Bordowski beat Gray for his second goal of the night midway through the man advantage to cut the gap to three.
And the visitors went back on the power play just 22 seconds later after an incident that saw Huska get two minutes for slashing, John Connolly a double minor for fighting and game misconduct for kicking and Basingstoke’s Liam Morris a double minor for fighting and a match penalty for making obscene gestures.
The hosts survived their shorthanded spell this time, returning to full strength with nine minutes left on the clock, and Mettam was forced into saves by Huska and Scott, while Sedivy shot wide from the left wing.
A cross-checking penalty against Novak gave Bison another late power play chance with less than three minutes to go and Sampford sent a good chance wide, before Bordowski had a close-range effort blocked.
Huska was thwarted at the other end, though, before Gray held on to Tait’s attempt cutting in from the left as Raiders recorded a memorable win.
Scorers, Raiders: Jake Sylvester 2; Brandon Ayliffe 1; Dan Scott 1; Aaron Connolly 1; Juraj Huska* 0+3; Blaho Novak 0+3; Liam Chong 0+2; John Connolly 0+1.
Bison: Richard Bordowski* 2; Adam Jones 0+1; Ashley Tait 0+1; Alex Mettam 0+1.
Shots on goal: Michael Gray (R) 19-19-19=57-2; Alex Mettam (B, 59.43) 6-18-9=33-5 Empty net (0.17) 0-0.