Ice hockey: Raiders 4 Bracknell Bees 3 (OT)
PUBLISHED: 20:00 17 November 2018
Everyone Active Raiders came back from two goals down in the final period before snatching a thrilling overtime win over National League leaders Bracknell at Romford's Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre.
Blaho Novak began the fightback, before Aaron Connolly claimed a last-minute equaliser to force the extra five-minute period.
And Raiders claimed victory when Jake Sylvester swept the puck past Dean Skinns, who had denied the hosts with several fine saves throughout.
Skinns was the first of the two goalies called into action to kick away Dan Scott’s shot, after the Raiders defenceman pinched in, and the returning Ollie Baldock then chipped a pass from Brandon Ayliffe just over the top of the Bracknell net as the hosts began brightly.
A tripping call against Callum Wells gave Bees the first power play of the night and although they couldn’t make the man advantage count they opened the scoring seconds after the penalty had expired as Joe Baird’s wristshot from the right was deflected past Michael Gray by Shaun Thompson.
Baldock was called for hooking just three seconds after the restart, but Gray denied Ivan Antonov at close range as Raiders successfully killed off the penalty.
But, just like with the first goal, they conceded again seconds after when Aidan Doughty sent the puck goalwards from the right point and Antonov got the final touch.
Raiders were given a power play chance of their own when Baird was called for a blatant hook on Juraj Huska, as the Slovakian looked to circle out of the corner for a shot at goal, and the home side halved the deficit when Ashley Jackson tipped Liam Chong’s shot into the roof of the net.
Ayliffe was just wide from Huska’s centre in the next passage of play, while Jackson intercepted a sloppy Bracknell pass at the blue line and forced a pad save from Skinns, before Sean Barry was called for an interference minor inside the final two minutes of the period.
Gray kicked out another shot from Antonov, but Raiders had a good 2-on-1 shorthanded chance, only to see Chong fire wide with Huska up in support.
Play was held up for several minutes early in the middle session after a Bracknell player took a whack to the nose and blood had to be cleared off the ice.
And Gray had to be alert when play eventually restarted to hold on to a shot from Harvey Stead, before knocking Brendan Baird’s effort away with his blocker.
Raiders were struggling to create any significant zone time of their own at the other end, until JJ Pitchley’s sharp angled effort from the left forced Skinns to hold on.
Thompson was binned for tripping and Joe Baird for high sticks soon after, giving Raiders an extended spell of 5-on-3, but Skinns held onto a blast from Scott in the first phase of play.
And the Bees goalie produced a superb pad save with his right leg to keep out Jackson’s shot from the low slot, following Huska’s set-up pass.
Brendon Baird was called for slashing, seconds after Thompson’s return, and Huska had a shot held by Skinns after Novak’s dash up the left wing created a chance. Then Filip Sedivy was denied by the goalie as the home side’s frustrations continued to grow.
And having survived their extended shorthanded spell, Bees went 3-1 up when Ryan Sutton cut in from the right wing and sent a wristshot past Gray from the top of the faceoff circle.
It was a hammer blow for Raiders, but Gray got enough glove on an angled shot from David Millner to turn the puck over the crossbar and prevent more damage.
And Joshua Smith wasted a great chance, sliding a shot across goal and beyond the far post, before Ayliffe pushed a great pass from Huska agonisingly wide of the target for Raiders.
Gray kept out Millner’s drive with a stick save, then smothered the loose puck, before Pitchley and Harvey Stead tangled in mid-ice and each picked up six minutes in penalties to liven up the crowd late in the period.
Raiders were back on the penalty kill at the start of the final period after Jackson was called for high sticks after just nine seconds, but they held firm and Ayliffe went close after bursting into the Bees zone and forcing a blocker save from Skinns.
The hosts cut the gap to one in the 48th minute when a good spell of pressure ended with Skinns denying Sedivy and Novak hacking the rebound home.
Raiders suddenly seemed to have more energy after a flat second-period and Matt Turner was denied by Skinns, who also thwarted Jackson with a smart glove save and then pouched a low effort from Julian Smith, when the big defenceman found himself in an advanced position.
Chong was the next Raider to be thwarted, as Gray continued to keep Bees at bay at the other end before being withdrawn for an extra skater, and the home side got their reward with just 51 seconds left in the game when a blast from Scott was tipped in by captain Aaron Connolly.
There were still chances for both sides to snatch the win in the closing seconds, but it went to 3-on-3 overtime and Sylvester won it for Raiders after 98 seconds, sweeping home after Chong and Huska had combined to set up the chance.
Scorers, Raiders: Jake Sylvester 1+1, Ashley Jackson 1, Aaron Connolly 1, Blaho Novak 1, Liam Chong 0+2, Juraj Huska* 0+2, Brandon Ayliffe 0+1, Dan Scott 0+1, Filip Sedivy* 0+1.
Bees: Shaun Thompson 1, Ivan Antonov 1, Ryan Sutton 1, James Galazzi 0+1, Aidan Doughty 0+1, Joe Baird 0+1, Harvey Stead 0+1, Brendan Baird 0+1.
Shots on goal: Michael Gray (R) 13-7-13-0=33-3, Dean Skinns (B) 10-10-19-1=40-4.
Penalty minutes: Raiders 14, Bees 14.