Raiders qualify despite loss
PUBLISHED: 09:47 23 March 2015
National League: MK Thunder 6 London Raiders 2
London Raiders secured their place in the National League play-offs, despite a disappointing defeat last night.
Cardiff’s loss on the Isle of Wight meant they could no longer catch Alan Blyth’s men for the eighth and final spot and Raiders will welcome the Welsh club to Lee Valley for the last match of the regular season on Saturday.
They will then take on champions Chelmsford over two legs in the first round of the play-offs during Easter weekend.
Blyth had asked his players to keep their discipline at the weekend and they did enough to beat Solent 5-4 on home ice on Saturday.
But they let their frustrations at referee Rick Adams get the better of them last night, collecting a whopping 143 minutes in penalties, with Tom Davis, David Oliver and Ross Wilkinson all ejected in the second period.
Raiders fell behind to a powerplay goal from Josh Nicklin in the seventh minute, as Oliver served a cross-checking penalty and it was 2-0 soon after as Ryan Coffey beat the returning Chris Douglas.
Vaclav Drabek replied before the first break for Raiders, but Alan Lack earned a 10-minute misconduct penalty after clashing with Simon Howard.
Thunder went 3-1 up through Tom Mboya, before Raiders lost Oliver to a game misconduct for abuse of official.
The hosts netted their fourth on the powerplay through Nicklin, before Davis was thrown out on a misconduct penalty.
And the Raiders bench was also given an abuse of official penalty, with Wilkinson ejected for roughing before the final period got underway.
That left the visitors to defend a five-minute 5-on-3 powerplay and Thunder went 5-1 up after just 23 seconds through Nicklin.
Raiders avoided further punishment until the closing stages when Nicklin netted his fourth of the night.
A late tripping call against Tom Castle allowed the visitors to finish the match with an extra man and they claimed a consolation when TJ Fillery’s shot came off the crossbar and Liam Chong picked out Grant Taylor to beat Damien King at close range.
Scorers, Thunder: Nicklin 4 Coffey 1 Mboya 1 Poziomkowski* 0+3 Line 0+2 Whyte 0+1 Rugholm* 0+1 Randall 0+1 Snape 0+1 H Goode 0+1.
Raiders: Drabek* 1 Taylor 1 Fillery 0+1 Lack 0+1 Chong 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Thunder 10 Raiders 143.
Shots on goal: King (MK) 34-2 Douglas (Raiders) 52-6.
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