Ice Hockey: Raiders 8 Invicta 3
PUBLISHED: 19:59 20 January 2019
Everyone Active Raiders eased to a second successive win over National League Division One basement boys Invicta to complete a four-point weekend at Romford’s Sapphire ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday.
Having skated to a 4-1 victory in Gillingham the night before, Raiders took to home ice without Julian Smith, Ollie Baldock, Ashley Jackson, Michael Gray and youngsters Dan Hitchings and Ewan Hill.
And after a fairly even opening, with chances at both ends and few stoppages in play, the Dynamos got their noses in front in the fifth minute when Lewis English found Callum Best at the far post to beat Ben Clements with a backhand shot.
But Invicta’s lead lasted less than two minutes as Filip Sedivy fired goalwards and, when his shot was blocked, Blaho Novak pounced to beat Conor Morris at close range.
Raiders slowly began to build pressure, but had to wait until late in the opening period to make it count on the scoreboard, taking the lead when JJ Pitchley won the puck on the left boards and cut to the net to slip the puck past Morris af 16:31.
And it was 3-1 in the final minute when Juraj Huska sent an excellent no-look pass off the end boards into the slot, where Jake Sylvester was on hand to fire past Morris and add to his two goals from the previous night’s action.
Raiders had dominated the shot count 15-6 in the opening frame, but came under early pressure at the start of the second session, before referee Blaine Evans called his first penalties of the night, co-incidental minors against former Raiders captain Anthony Leone (holding) and current defenceman Dan Scott (high sticks).
The hosts extended their lead seconds later as Novak skated in from the right wing and sent a low wristshot into the bottom corner, then netted a fifth goal on a power play when Matt Foord was binned for slashing.
Huska teed up Aaron Connolly in front of the net and when his shot was blocked, Pitchley pounced to tap home by the left post.
Best hit the crossbar from close range as Invicta looked to respond, while Raiders coach Sean Easton began to give some of his younger players more ice time, including Tommy Huggett, Callum Burnett, Brandon Webster and, as the match approached the midway point, Brad Windebank between the posts in relief of Clements.
Raiders did not give the young goalie the best of starts, though, as they left him exposed to English, who skated in to find the top corner of the net for Invicta’s second goal of the night.
The home side restored the four-goal cushion with five minutes left in the period as Novak tipped a puck into Invicta’s zone and won the foot race to retrieve it, then found Sedivy to centre for Connolly to sweep past Morris from in front of the net.
It was starting to look almost too easy at times for Raiders as they moved the puck around at will in the offensive zone, with one shift involving Huska, Sylvester and Brandon Ayliffe prompting a large crowd to sing “is this a power play?”
As it was, Invicta went on a power play of their own towards the end of the session when Windebank was called for tripping a Dynamos forward close to his net, but he kept out a wristshot from Best before the buzzer.
The visitors grabbed their third goal early in the final period when English found Louis Colvin at the far post to sweep home, but Windebank did well to deny Dynamos during a scramble in front of his net soon after and again while Connolly was serving an interference minor, making a total of 17 saves for his half-game.
Matt Turner drew a holding penalty from Harrison Lillis to send Raiders on the power play and they went 7-3 up as Connolly tipped Chong’s pass goalwards and Mason Webster gobbled up the rebound by the far post.
And the eighth and final goal of the night followed soon after as Huggett helped the puck on from the left boards for Connolly to fire between the legs of Morris for his second.
Tougher tests await Raiders, who visit MK Thunder next Saturday, then host Swindon on Sunday.
Scorers, Raiders: Aaron Connolly 2+3, Blaho Novak 2+1, JJ Pitchley 2, Mason Webster 1+1, Jake Sylvester 1. Filip Sedivy* 0+3, Juraj Huska* 0+2, Sean Barry 0+1, Callum Wells 0+1, Liam Chong 0+1, Tommy Huggett 0+1, Callum Burnett 0+1.
Invicta: Lewis English 1+2, Callum Best 1, Louis Colvin 1, Harrison Lillis 0+2, Oskars Ancitis* 0+1.
Shots on goal: Ben Clements (R, 29.42) 6-5=11-1 Brad Windebank (R, 30.18) 4-15=19-2; Conor Morris (I) 15-17-11=43-8.