Ice Hockey: Raiders coach Pitchley relishing Essex derby

Raiders defenceman Callum Burnett (pic Nikki Day)

Raiders defenceman Callum Burnett (pic Nikki Day) - Credit: Archant

Romford Junior Raiders head coach Ben Pitchley is relishing his side’s National League Division One South derby with Chelmsford on Saturday.

The Essex rivals meet at Romford's Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre in contrasting form, with Raiders having lost their last six matches, while the Chieftains have won their last six.

But Pitchley is hoping his injury-hit squad can rise to the occasion, having lost 7-2 in their earlier meeting at the Riverside Ice Arena this season.

He said: "Derby games are the best to play or coach in, and with the team now in the same league as Chelmsford it gives our development team a real chance to experience what a proper Essex derby game is like.

"You can throw form out of the window in these games, trust me."

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However, Raiders' derby hopes have been hit by serious injuries to forward Ewan Hill and defenceman Callum Burnett, who ended up in hospital after being hurt in losses to Bracknell Hornets (8-4) and Slough Jets (8-2) last weekend.

Pitchley added: "Last weekend was tough for the team in terms of results and even tougher with injuries. The late check to Ewan Hill was brutal and cost us a player for at least this weekend.

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"Then to have Callum damage his hand to the extent that he has to have an operation in what was a nothing collision, is even tougher.

"I've never known a season with injuries like this in all my career and they aren't quick fixes. Dan Hitchings hasn't played since the first league game of the season, Craig Ellis has dislocated both knee caps in separate games this season, Ashley Cave is still recovering from his knee injury in Lee Valley from last season.

"And now Callum is out for at least the rest of this season. It has been tough."

There was some good news, though, as Ellie Wakeling helped Great Britain under-18s beat Spain (3-0), Iceland (4-3) and Poland (4-2) at a Four Nations event in Dumfries.

Pitchley said: "Ellie did really well representing GB 18s in Dumfries and had the honour of wearing one of the As for the team.

"The event has given GB head coach Cheryl Smith a headache for selections at the Worlds, which can only be a good thing to deal with."

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