Raiders return to the ice with clashes against Telford
- Credit: John Scott
Everyone Active Raiders will return to the ice for the first time in more than 11 months as they face a double header against NIHL National League champions Telford Tigers to begin the Spring Cup this weekend.
Head coach Sean Easton and his side will make the trip to Shropshire on Saturday (6.30pm) before hosting Tom Watkins’ Tigers the following night (5pm) - both behind closed doors - as they start a 12-game mini series.
Blahoslav Novak and Lukas Sladkovsky have opted not to return for a short stint of games but Raiders have brought in defencemen Zach Sullivan and Ben Solder as well as forwards Glenn Billing, Juraj Huska and Liam Stewart.
Easton admitted it has been a long wait for him and his players: “After nearly 12 months since our last game, the time has finally come to prepare for a hockey-filled weekend.
“It wasn't until Saturday it dawned on me that this is actually happening. Some won't agree with us playing during these tough times, but it's been extremely tough for the players and coaches too.
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“Having something we have done all our life taken away and not knowing when or if it can ever return to how it was. It's not just a sport, it's a lifestyle.”
The former Chelmsford Chieftains coach revealed it has been a manic few weeks preparing for a shortened season in the space of two weeks since being given the all clear to return to play.
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“The last couple of weeks have been crazy,” he said. “Where we normally have five months to prepare we have had two weeks, to assemble a team, equipment, Covid risk assessments, organising with the rink and council operators.
“It's all worth it, to get back what we have all been craving.”
Raiders will be coming up against the likes of Sheffield Steeldogs, Swindon Wildcats, Bracknell Bees and the Tigers who all boast a number of EIHL player among their ranks.
“It's going to be a very tough test, but we are all up for the challenge and will look to make upsets along the way.
“The players are all super competitive (they hate losing in training) and will give their utmost to come away victorious.”
Raiders, goalies: Ethan James and Brad Windebank.
Defenceman: Dan Scott, Callum Wells, Jack Cooper, Ross Connolly, Sean Barry, Callum Burnett, Zach Sullivan, Ben Solder.
Forwards: Aaron Connolly, Erik Piatak, Harry Gulliver, Jake Sylvester, Brandon Ayliffe, Ollie Baldock, Jacob Ranson, Jj Pitchley, Tommy Huggett, Juraj Huska, Glenn Billing and Liam Stewart.