Ice hockey: Raiders 8 MK Thunder 0
PUBLISHED: 19:55 30 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:04 01 October 2018
Raiders proved too strong for National League rivals Milton Keynes as Jake Sylvester helped himself to a hat-trick and Ben Clements made 32 saves for a shutout at the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre.
Having lost 5-2 at defending champions Basingstoke on Saturday night, less than two minutes had been played when Raiders took the lead as they moved the puck well in the offensive zone and Sylvester’s wristshot from the high slot beat Tom Annetts on his blocker side.
Aaron Connolly and Ross Green picked up coincidental roughing minors moments later, after the Raiders captain pushed the Thunder defenceman into Annetts and the visitors went on the power play when Filip Sedivy was binned for a trip in mid-ice but former Raiders forward Rio Grinnell-Parke had a shot blocked.
Aaron and John Connolly both went close at the other end, as Raiders continued to pose most of the questions, and Callum Wells drove wide from the right point.
Raiders went on the power play when Thomas Rubes was called for cross-checking JJ Pitchley and Sylvester and Dan Scott fired hard shots wide, before Juraj Huska picked up a hooking minor in his own zone to nullify the man advantage.
Ross Green was then caught holding Blaho Novak’s stick, sending the home side back on the power play, but the hosts could not convert as Wells saw a shot blocked.
The second period began with Ross Bowers testing the blocker of Ben Clements, before Liam Chong almost found a way through at the other end after some neat stick work.
Sedivy then sent a great chance wide of a half-open net, while the lively Brandon Ayliffe cut inside onto his backhand and tested the left pad of Annetts.
Rubbes forced a stick save from Clements, before Ross Bowers rang a post with an angled shot, gifted to him by Scott’s misplaced pass.
And Raiders made the most of their reprieve as Chong found Connolly on the left and his shot beat Annetts to double the lead.
Clements stoned Grinnell-Parke from between the hash marks as Thunder sought a quick reply, but Matt Turner and Ayliffe then combined to set up Pitchley, who was just too high with his attempt.
Annett kicked out Huska’s big blast from the right, then denied Sylvester’s hard shot with his shoulder and Sedivy’s follow-up as Raiders kept the pressure on, with the Thunder goalie needing a quick check from the physio at the next stoppage in play.
Clements made a bright stop on Tom Carlon, breaking into the zone on the right wing on an odd-man rush, before Raiders went 3-0 up with a lovely move as Novak carried the puck up the right and found Sedivy on the opposite side of the net from a drop pass to Sylvester, who made no mistake.
Thunder were handed a power play chance in the next phase of play when Scott was called for holding Jamie Line in the corner, with Clements kicking out Greg Randall’s blue line blast and turning another effort wide with his stick, before Wells batted the puck clear baseball style.
Clements held on to a hard one-timer from Line from the high slot, as Raiders killed the Scott penalty, and it was 4-0 on a delayed call against Grant McPherson as Novak beat Annetts, amid some confusion among the officials.
Ayliffe missed a good chance of a fifth, after Pitchley’s shot was blocked, and banged his stick on the ice in frustration, but Chong made no mistake from close range from Huska’s pass.
And it was 6-0 just 49 seconds later when Wells saw his shot spilled and Sylvester potted the rebound to complete his hat-trick and assert the home side’s authority on the scoreboard.
Thunder replaced Annetts with Jordan Lawday for the final period and the young goalie was beaten early on by Huska’s quick release shot that went in via a post.
Clements had to be alert to deny Bowers and Carlon at the other end, before Raiders were caught with too many men on the ice during a line change.
But the hosts made the only other addition to the scoreboard as Novak found Sedivy and he picked the top corner of the net with a fine finish.
A holding call against Scott put Thunder on the power play for the final 94 seconds, but Clements held firm to register his clean sheet and complete a fine night for the hosts.
Raiders: Jake Sylvester 3+1, Filip Sedivy 1+4, Liam Chong 1+2, Blaho Novak 1+2, Aaron Connolly 1+1, Juraj Huska* 1+1, John Connolly 0+1.
Shots on goal: Ben Clements (R) 10-11-11=32-0, Tom Annetts (MK, 40.00) 13-22=35-6 Jordan Lawday (MK, 20.00) 12-2.
Penalty minutes: Raiders 12, Thunder 8.