Ice hockey: Raiders 7 Peterborough 6
PUBLISHED: 19:58 16 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:58 16 March 2019
Everyone Active Raiders ended their three-game losing run in National League Division One with a thrilling win over Autumn Cup and South Cup winners Peterborough at Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Saturday.
Having lost 6-0 at Basingstoke and then suffered back-to-back losses against lowly MK Thunder, Raiders raced into a 5-1 lead early in the second period, before the visitors hit back to set up a tense final period.
And although the two sides had combined for 13 goals in the opening 40 minutes, they could not add to the scoresheet in the third session as Raiders protected their lead.
Both sides had been named in a new 10-team National League line-up for 2019/20 earlier in the day, along with Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Hull Pirates, Leeds, MK Lightning, Sheffield Steeldogs, Swindon Wildcats and Telford Tigers.
And Raiders went on the penalty kill early as Jake Sylvester was called for tripping, but they took the lead while shorthanded as Brandon Ayliffe raced clear to lift the puck over Jordan Marr’s shoulder.
Corey McEwen fired just wide and James White straight at Michael Gray as Phantoms looked for a reply, before Juraj Huska tested Marr midway through the period.
Raiders doubled their lead in the 12th minute when JJ Pitchley and Sylvester combined to find captain Aaron Connolly, who fired past Marr from a tight angle.
But the visitors hit back just 33 seconds later through Petr Stepanek, only to lose Will Weldon and Ales Padelek to slashing and high sticking penalties in quick succession.
That gave Raiders 84 seconds with a two-man advantage and they went 3-1 up through Sylvester, assisted by Dan Scott and Slovakian import Huska, who moved to 500 career points in gold and blue in the process.
But Phantoms killed off the Padelek penalty, only to see Ayliffe bag his seconnd goal of the night on a delayed call, assisted by Pitchley, with just over a minute left in a superb opening period for the home side.
The middle session was only a minute old when Huska put the home side 5-1 ahead, but Phantoms hit straight back just 45 seconds later through captain James Ferrara.
And the visitors netted their third goal after only another 32 seconds had elapsed as Tom Norton found a way past Gray.
Ayliffe was then called for interference, handing Phantoms a power play chance, and it was suddenly a one-goal game as Padelek converted during the man advantage to make it three goals in just 1.50 of play.
Shellshocked Raiders called a timeout to gather their thoughts, then went on the power play themselves when Robert Ferrara was binned for tripping.
Scott Robson was also called for the rare offence of throwing the puck, with Raiders moving 6-4 up when Matt Turner converted on the power play.
Gray denied McEwen on a breakaway chance with a fine save, then kept out Weldon at close range from Stepanek’s pass, but he was beaten for a fifth time when Martins Susters struck just past the midway point.
And although Raiders went 7-5 up just 62 seconds later through Turner, Phantoms scored their sixth goal of the night less than a minute after through former Romford junior Glenn Billing.
Mason Webster was then called for cross-checking, but Raiders managed to survive the shorthanded spell despite Peterborough enjoying some good possession and chances.
However, the home side went back on the penalty kill when Dan Scott clashed with Billing and picked up the extra minor penalty and Raiders were also hit with a bench minor for having too many men on the ice.
Phantoms could not make their brief spell of 5-on-3 count, though, and Raiders took a one-goal lead into the final session.
After surviving their shorthanded spell, Raiders saw Gray deny McEwen, then save from Norton after Pitchley was binned for abuse of official.
Marr made two big saves of his own at the other end to keep Phantoms in the game, before Webster was binned for a late hit with just over eight minutes left.
And Weldon saw a shot hit the mask of Gray during the power play before Padelek’s deflected attempt was saved by the Raiders goalie before the home side returned to full strength.
The clock ticked down until Phantoms called a timeout in the final minute to remove Marr for an extra skater, with Gray smothering the puck as the visitors tried to force it home with 23 seconds left.
And Raiders held out after that to take the points and ensure their six-game series with Phantoms during the regular campaign ended all square at three wins apiece.
Raiders travel to Bracknell Bees for their final game of the league season on Sunday, with the two sides then due to meet in the first round of the play-offs the following weekend.
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