Ice hockey: Raiders 7 Peterborough 2
- Credit: Archant
Everyone Active Raiders made it six wins in a row in the National League with another strong display on home ice on Sunday.
But play-off rivals Bracknell were big home winners against Sheffield to remain three points adrift of the top eight, with a trip to the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre up next Saturday.
Erik Piatak forced Ryan Bainborough into early action with a couple of shots, before Michael Gray pouched an Thomas Norton wristshot from the blue line and denied Martins Susters at close range.
But Phantoms went on the power play when Jacob Ranson was called for a check from behind, after a high energy shift that got the crowd going, and Glenn Billing got a touch on Ales Padelek's blast to open the scoring.
The hosts were then handed a power play of their own when Joseph Gretton tripped Ollie Baldock at the blue line and levelled through Jake Sylvester, who showed persistence to force his way towards the net and beat Bainborough.
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And Raiders took the lead when Brandon Ayliffe rang the far post with a superb wristshot and Piatak picked up the loose puck and whipped it home.
The period ended on a high note too for Sean Easton's men as Lukas Sladkovsky showed determination and strength to force a Peterborough defenceman off his skates on the end boards, then threw the puck out front for JJ Pitchley to fire a low one-timer past Bainborough.
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And the middle session was only 51 seconds old when Aaron Connolly cut in from the right wing to make it 4-1, before Novak attacked on the same flank on the very next shift and beat Bainborough at the second attempt.
Having conceded twice in 20 seconds, Bainborough was replaced by Jordan Marr, who was soon called into action to save from Piatak as Raiders continued to buzz around the Phantoms zone.
Gray's blocker save denied Petr Stepanek from right the hash marks, as the shellshocked visitors sought to reply, and the 30-year-old made another scrambling stop as the puck bobbled around his crease.
But he was beaten by Will Weldon from between the circles, with a low shot from Nathan Pollard's pass, and had to repel a Stepanek blast from a tight angle as the visitors enjoyed more puck possession for a spell.
Sladkovsky forced Marr into a pad save, while Gray got some glove on Pollard's drive around the midway mark, before Mason Webster was binned for holding.
But Raiders killed off the penalty and went 6-2 up with a stunning effort from Piatak, who waltzed his way into the Phantoms zone and beat Marr with a backhand finish.
James Ferrara hit the crossbar soon after, but Phantoms could not capitalise on a slashing penalty against Ayliffe and saw Gray kick out Norton's shot after Baldock was binned for roughing in the final minute.
That penalty was also killed off either side of the break and Raiders went 7-2 up just as Baldock was coming out of the penalty box as Novak intercepted an attempted clearance from Marr skated around behind the net and played the puck out for Sladkovsky, who netted on his backhand.
Ayliffe went close again, hitting the pipework with another good wristshot, while Gray had to remain alert to deny the visitors - playing their third game in three nights - any kind of consolation in the time that remained.
Raiders: Erik Piatak 2, Blaho Novak 1+2, Lukas Sladkovsky 1+1, Jake Sylvester 1, JJ Pitchley 1, Aaron Connolly 1, Brandon Ayliffe 0+3, Dan Scott 0+2, Jack Cooper 0+1, Sean Barry 0+1, Callum Wells 0+1, Michael Gray 0+1.
Phantoms: Glenn Billing 1, Will Weldon 1, Thomas Norton 0+1, Ales Padelek 0+1, Nathan Pollard 0+1, Scott Robson 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Raiders 20 Phantoms 2.
Shots on goal: Michael Gray (R) 11-20-13=44-2; Ryan Bainborough (P, 21.11) 14-3=17-5, Jordan Marr (P, 38.49) 6-10=16-2.