Raiders captain Connolly feels Spring Cup experience will benefit them
- Credit: John Scott
Everyone Active Raiders captain Aaron Connolly feels featuring in the NIHL Spring Cup against some top Elite and GB stars will help them in the future despite finishing in last place.
The Romford-based outfit picked up three wins in 12 games against the likes of Sheffield Steeldogs, Telford Tigers, Swindon Wildcats, and Bees IHC who all bolstered their rosters with a number of players currently without top-flight hockey due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“We knew coming into this competition that it was going to be tough for us and no doubt it was,” said the 27-year-old Connolly.
“However, we retained pretty much our starting team for this competition with other teams adding multiple Elite League players.
“Whilst this may not have helped us in terms of results, I'm confident that we will reap the rewards moving forward.”
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Raiders sealed a 6-5 overtime victory on home ice against runners-up Telford Tigers on Saturday, before then crashing to a 4-3 defeat to Bees at Slough in their last outing the following day.
“The Telford game was a real stand out one for me as we showed real grit and determination to get ourselves back in that game," added Connolly.
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“It's great to see how far we have come in just a short space of time, however in terms of cup standing this result didn't benefit us.”
After an impressive win over Tom Watkins’ Tigers, Raiders needed a win to finish fourth in the cup competition, but failed to manage that after going down 4-1 early on before fighting back to within one.
“It all swung on the result Sunday night against Bracknell and unfortunately we didn't start the game well enough ultimately resulting in us losing that game and finishing below Bracknell," said Connolly.
“We can look for excuses in the league's point system, which I myself don’t agree with, but it's always been the same and we knew that going into the competition.
“We simply didn’t do enough over the course of the competition and we have to own that and learn from it.”
Having finished the six-week long behind-closed-doors competition, Raiders will now hope they can return to the ice soon or begin preparations for the upcoming 2021-22 season.