Ice hockey: Basingstoke 5 Raiders 2
PUBLISHED: 21:21 29 September 2018 | UPDATED: 21:21 29 September 2018
Raiders were unable to spoil Basingstoke's party as they saw their three-match winning streak brought to an end by the defending National League Division One champions.
The home side raised their championship banners from last season’s treble before the start of play, but Aaron Connolly and Liam Chong had the first looks for Raiders, who went on the power play in the fifth minute when Tom Ralph was binned.
Michael Gray denied Ashley Tait a shorthanded chance, but Raiders applied pressure and Juraj Huska fired wide from the right.
Gray turned away a shot on the turn from George Norcliffe, then made a double save to thwart Richard Bordowski as the Bison began to gain the upper hand midway through the opening period.
Both sides were reduced to four skaters when Raiders’ Blaho Novak and home captain Russ Cowley were called for hooking at 12.27 and Gray made a vital save to keep out the vastly experienced Tait.
But Bison opened the scoring seconds after the penalties expired, as Cowley netted with a wristshot from Tait’s pass.
Raiders responded and put pressure on Alex Mettam’s net, but the home side held firm, and Gray was then back in action to save from Michal Klejna.
A second goal arrived at 17.25, though, as Liam Morris took a pass from Alan Jones and fired past Gray on his return from suspension.
And that was how the first period ended, with Bison dominating the shot count 19-6, as Novak and Cowley were binned 18 seconds before the buzzer after both fell to the ice while battling for the puck.
Bison lost Norcliffe to a match penalty – downgraded to a game misconduct – for high sticks after catching Dan Scott and drawing blood early in the second period, with the visitors netting twice in 18 seconds on the major power play to draw level.
Captain Connolly got the first against his former club, cutting to the middle from Chong’s pass and firing past Mettam, before Connolly and Scott combined to set up Jake Sylvester to square matters on the next shift.
Their joy was shortlived, though, as Brandon Ayliffe was called for slashing and Bison regained the lead through Alex Sampford, who beat Gray with a backhand.
And they were back on the power play when Novak was binned for interference, having produced a nice move to the Bison net but fired wide moments earlier.
The visitors killed the penalty off well and went close to levelling when Novak returned and connected with a pass out from behind the net, only for Mettam to make a big save.
Chong was also thwarted inside the last two minutes of the period, after beating two players, as the two sides each had eight shots on goal during the middle session.
Klejna fired a big shot wide early in the final period but Raiders were given a power play chance when Hallam Wilson was called for kneeing.
But despite moving the puck well with the man advantage, Raiders could not find a way through and the hosts survived.
Ayliffe was next to fall foul of the officials, picking up a minor penalty for netminder interference, and Bison saw Bordowski tip a shot from King past Gray, only for referee Blaine Evans to rule it out after discussions with his linesmen.
And Raiders were then handed another power play chance when Morris was called for charging, with Mettam performing heroics to keep Bison in front.
Ralph and Chong were binned on co-incidental minors as the match remained on a knife edge heading into the final 10 minutes, with the gloves coming off seconds later as Callum Wells landed the only blow of note against Jones.
Julian Smith and Morris picked up further penalties, seconds apart, and Bison netted twice in the space of 34 seconds to settle the matter.
Cowley fed Tait for their fourth, despite Gray getting something on it, and a nice passing move involving Klejna and King ended with Sampford firing home his second of the night.
The visitors called a timeout, with just over six minutes left, and then lost Novak on a hooking call, but Klejna and Morris wasted a good 2-on-1 chance before Filip Sedivy got in behind the Bison defence only to see Mettam deny him a consolation.
Raiders return to Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday to play host to MK Thunder (5.30pm).