Ice hockey: Raiders 4 Bracknell 2
PUBLISHED: 19:51 09 December 2018 | UPDATED: 19:51 09 December 2018
Everyone Active Raiders came from two goals down to sting the Bees and complete a superb four-point weekend in National League Division One.
The hosts looked to be suffering a little bit from their exploits at Swindon the night before, when they claimed a memorable 5-2 victory over the leaders.
But they battled back to level terms during the second period and scored twice in the final session to skate off with the plaudits.
Raiders were on the penalty kill after just 43 seconds as Blaho Novak was called for cross checking and although they survived the shorthanded spell, they fell behind in the fourth minute as Ben Paynter scored a scrappy goal from close range.
Danny Milton denied Jake Sylvester an equaliser with a sharp reflex save, but Raiders had a let-off when James Galazzi hit a post.
Michael Gray gloved a wristshot from Roman Malinik out of the air, before Ashley Jackson hit the outside of a post from Novak’s centring pass.
And Gray produced a superb save to deny David Millner, after the Swedish forward pounced on Dan Scott’s misplaced pass and skated clear.
The respite was brief, though, as Bees doubled their advantage with a close-range finish from Shaun Thompson, who lifted the puck into the roof of the net as the hosts scrambled in their own zone.
The frustration continued as Juraj Huska wasted a breakaway chance, before Gray robbed Scott Spearing with an impressive blocker save.
And JJ Pitchley was unable to find a way past Milton after finding space on the right wing, before Raiders failed to capitalise on a slashing call against Galazzi late in the opening period.
Hard-skating Bracknell, having dominated the shot count 20-7, deserved their lead and although Novak forced a low stick save from Milton early in the second period, Bees continued to pose more of an offensive threat, with Gray thwarting Adian Doughty, who chipped another effort wide from Malinik’s pass.
A tripping call against Ollie Baldock gave Bees a power play chance and Gray kicked out Stuart Mogg’s blue line blast in the opening seconds.
But Aaron Connolly, playing on defence in the absence of Callum Wells, was then called for cross-checking.
Raiders survived the brief spell of 5-on-3, then saw Novak force Milton into action from Baldock’s pass before Galazzi was binned for tripping.
Huska’s snapshot was held by Milton, who also thwarted Filip Sedivy in close before Raiders got a short power play chance, but could not capitalise.
A rink-wide pass from Huska found Sylvester, whose wristshot was fumbled by Milton, before Bees were given a bench minor penalty for having too many men on the ice.
And Raiders halved the deficit on the power play as Aaron Connolly teed up Scott just inside the blue line in a central position and he drilled a shot past Milton, although the goal was later credited to Pitchley.
Gray had to be alert to deny Ivan Antonov on the next shift, but Baldock forced Milton to cover up after winning the puck outside the Bees zone.
And Raiders went back on the power play towards the end of the session when Doughty was called for cross-checking, after Sean Barry and Scott Spearing had been binned on coincidental minors.
The home side made it count again as Aaron Connolly got two bites of the cherry at close range to force the puck under the pads of Milton and level it up at 2-2 with just over a minute left on the clock.
Play swung from end to end at the start of the final period, with Huska working himself a chance to force Milton into action, before Gray saved Julian Smith’s blushes by denying Antonov after a giveaway.
And Raiders took the lead in the 47th minute when the puck fell kindly for Novak to smash a shot past the Bees goalie.
The gloves came off soon after, with Ryan Watt attacking Baldock behind Milton’s net, while Barry and Josh Martin tangled in a corner.
Watt was ejected on a 5+game penalty, while Baldock picked up a high-sticking minor, but Raiders could not make their three-minute power play count as Sedivy was denied by Milton.
Pitchley was then binned for roughing after taking exception to a slash from Mogg, which went unpunished, but the hosts survived and saw Sylvester drill a left-wing shot beyond the far post.
Sedivy and Matt Turner were denied at close range in a scramble with just over five minutes remaining, while Thompson rang the mask of Gray with a shot from the right face-off circle with 2.21 left on the clock.
And the visitors called a timeout with 85 ticks to go, pulling Milton for an extra skater with a face-off in the Raiders zone.
But Antonov saw two efforts blocked wide, before Ayliffe won a battle for a loose puck and found Jackson, who fired into the empty net to the delight of the Raiders fans.
Scorers, Raiders: Aaron Connolly 1+1, JJ Pitchley 1, Ashley Jackson 1, Blaho Novak 1, Brandon Ayliffe 0+2, Dan Scott 0+2.
Bees: Shaun Thompson 1+1, Ben Paynter 1+1, Josh Smith 0+1, Josh Martin 0+1.
Shots on goal: Michael Gray (R) 20-12-20=52-2, Danny Milton (B, 58.35) 7-14-12=33-3 Empty net (1.25) 1-1.