Raiders ready for biggest weekend
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 December 2015
Oliver excited by home double-header
London Raiders defenceman David Oliver says the team are looking forward to their biggest weekend of the season.
The Lee Valley-based club host Invicta in the National League tomorrow (Saturday), before welcoming Chelmsford for a rearranged South East Trophy clash the following night.
And Alan Blyth’s side go into the home double-header in good spirits, on the back of a three-match winning streak following last weekend’s success at Streatham.
Oliver said: “This weekend is the biggest weekend of the season. We’ve got two home games, one in the league and one in the cup, and we’re looking good and want to keep this run going.
“The way we are playing at the moment it will be very hard for Invicta to walk away with anything.
“It’s no secret that Chelmsford are a good team, but on our day we can beat anyone, home or away.”
Raiders skated to a 3-2 success against the Redskins thanks to a brace of goals from import forward Marek Nahlik and another from his fellow Slovakian Michal Oravec, against his former club.
Goalie Michael Gray was named man of the match after making 45 saves and Oliver added: “The team is really coming along and looks sharper every week.
“We have a great thing going coming into Christmas and long may it keep going.
“It was one of our best all around team performances of the season at Streatham, to go a goal down and come back the way we did against a very good team shows what we have in our lockerroom.
“Some times a one-game weekend is more hard work as it takes a bit of time to get going, but once we found our speed we didn’t let up.”
Raiders have yet to win in six meetings against Invicta and Chelmsford this season, but their five losses all came on the road.
They came from behind to draw 4-4 with the Dynamos on home ice in October and former Raider Jacob Ranson expects another close contest this weekend.
The 20-year-old, who joined Invicta in the summer after winning three player of the year awards with Raiders last season, said: “I’ve been keeping a close eye on the Raiders results this season and it seems they have picked up a lot of late recently.
“I think it will be the toughest tie we’ve had against them so far, with them being high on confidence from beating Streatham last weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to the game because it’s always good fun going back to your old team and playing against friends and former team-mates – plus it’s always nice to make your mark against an old team and prove your worth!”
London might have lost 7-4 and 6-1 in Gillingham, but their meeting in Lee Valley was all square and Ranson, who lines up alongside former Raiders Bailey Wootton and Josh Condren, added: “We’ve played the Raiders three times so far this season, all in which the fans have given me a great reception when my name is called out, which is great to have.
“Once the puck drops I’m just worried about picking up the two points. Last time we played away to them we seemed to really struggle all over the ice, but I think as a team we have started to gel a lot better over the last eight or nine games.
“We’ve picked up a couple bodies since that game, although Raiders have also picked it up by looking at their results of late.”