Raiders kick off league campaign with mixed fortunes

Raiders forward Erik Piatak on the puck against Basingstoke Bison

Raiders forward Erik Piatak on the puck against Basingstoke Bison - Credit: John Scott

Everyone Active Raiders kicked start to the National League season with one win and one defeat on the opening weekend. 

It started off with a narrow 3-1 defeat to Milton Keynes Lightning away from home before they bounced back the following night with a 6-5 win over Basingstoke Bison the following night at the Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre. 

It was not until after the halfway mark that the deadlock was broken after JJ Pitchley was sin binned for tripping Adam Laishram.  

On the powerplay, revenge was sweet for Laishram, rounding off a fine move involving Chamberlain and Leigh Jamieson at the 33rd minute mark. 

Lightning ending the period short-handed when Edgars Landsbergs was called for holding. 

Although that penalty was of no significance, Landsbergs was despatched to the sin bin again for interference within the first three minutes of the third period.  

This time Raiders made the extra man count with Erik Piatak setting up Aaron Connolly to register the leveller three minutes into the final period. 

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Raiders were handed a great chance to take the lead after Sam Russell was handed a five minute penalty for boarding Brandon Ayliffe with just over ten minutes to go.  

Lightning killed off the penalty and it proved costly for the visitors when Bobby Chamberlain made the pass for Sean Norris to put Lightning on top in the 54th minute.  

Raiders pulled goalie Ethan James for the final 30 seconds to allow the extra skater – giving Chamberlain his opportunity to fire in on the empty net with five seconds left. 

A hat-trick from Erik Piatak, a brace from Aaron Connolly and a goal from Jake Sylvester guided Raiders to a 6-5 win over Bison on home ice. 

Zack Milton opened the scoring for the visitors early on, but his effort was cancelled out by a low shot from Jake Sylvester less than a minute later on the powerplay. 

Raiders captain Aaron Connolly in action against Basingstoke Bison

Raiders captain Aaron Connolly in action against Basingstoke Bison - Credit: John Scott

Slovakian forward Piatak then made it 2-1, before player/coach Ashley Tait levelled the score in the ninth minute. 

Bison then took a 3-2 lead into the period break as Canadian forward Alex Roberts found the back of the net. 

Aidan Doughty stretched the Bison lead to 4-2 almost as soon as the second period begun as he linked up with Roberts and Adam Harding. 

Captain Aaron Connolly reduced the score as he found the back of the net on the powerplay but it was short lived as Zack Milton scored to make it 5-3 heading into the third period. 

Raiders up the tempo and forced Basingstoke into penalty trouble throughout the second and third period. 

Conolly netted after Piatak picked him out to get Raiders back into the contest just 43 seconds in. 

Piatak grabbed his second of the game to level the score and create a tense ending to the match. 

The in-form Slovak then completed his hat-trick shorthanded with just over five minutes left to play.