Raiders captain excited by winning start
- Credit: Archant
Smith: So many positives to take from game
London Raiders captain AJ Smith is excited about the potential in the squad, following their opening-day win over Cardiff.
Smith picked up three assists in the 6-4 win over the Devils at Lee Valley Ice Arena and admitted it was a fine way to begin their campaign.
He said: “It was a great start to the season. It probably wasn’t the prettiest game to watch and it definitely wasn’t the best performance you will see from us this year.
“But with a line of guys missing and a brand new team still getting to know each other the most important thing was grinding out the win and that’s what we did against a hungry, young Cardiff team.”
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Raiders were without player-coach Danny Marshall, Frankie Harvey and Michael Gray due to suspension, with new recruits Ross Wilkinson, James Buckingham, Haydn and Taylor Wootton also unavailable.
But Czech import Jakub Klima netted a final-period hat-trick to help them come from behind and secure the points, with fellow countryman Vaclav Drabek also on target on his debut, alongside Stephen Deacon and David Oliver.
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Smith added: “There are so many positives to take from the game that I don’t even know where to start.
“All of the youngsters making their debuts got lots of ice and proved that they belong at this level and all the new lads we’ve signed from Cardiff fitted into the team straight away and had great games too.
“Both our imports got on the scoresheet and we have our first two points of the season. All that and we were missing six guys. I can’t wait until everybody is back in the line-up to see what we can achieve this year.”
Youngsters Jack Lee, Bailey Wootton, Jacob Ranson and TJ Fillery all played their part and showed much promise, with Smith adding: “The only downside to the game was the unfortunate injury suffered by Jack who has separated his shoulder.
“He was having a great debut up until that moment and I’m gutted for him, but he’s a tough kid and he will back with us soon.”
Raiders are at home again this weekend, when they welcome Bracknell Hornets to east London.