Romford Junior Raiders coach Saunders 'pleased' ahead of league opener
- Credit: Nicola Day
Romford Junior Raiders' head coach Mark Saunders is "pleased" with the characters in his squad and how quickly they have bonded ahead of the opening weekend of the season.
The Raiders second team will welcome Milton Keynes Thunder to the Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre on Saturday (5.15pm) before then travelling away to reigning champions Streatham the following night (6.45pm).
They head into those clashes on the back of a 4-3 defeat and a 5-1 defeat to Streatham in pre-season friendlies last weekend, which coach Saunders impressed by his young squad during those games.
“Having so many new players come into a side and also a new coach with a new structure to play, I'm pleased with how quickly the team has adapted and taken on the new beginnings within this team,” Saunders said.
“Onto next weekend and the start of league and cup fixtures, we will have another good week in training and be ready to go when we welcome Milton Keynes on Saturday and play away in Streatham on Sunday evening.
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“The season is well and truly back and we can’t wait to get started.”
Raiders ran a very strong side close at home on Saturday, with a narrow 4-3 loss before then suffering a heavier 5-1 defeat away from home.
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Coach Saunders is looking at the positives that his side, made up of a large number of under-18s, and how well they did against the favourites to win the league title.
“After 18 months away from the game at competitive NIHL1 level, it was brilliant to finally hit the ice in the gold and blue uniform with a new-look team and a new season getting underway,” Saunders said.
“Pre-season games against Streatham would undoubtedly be a strong test for our new side and these games very much proved to be the test we wanted.
“Both games were played at a good pace with it being clear that both teams would take time to get going.
“I'm pleased with the way we played on both nights, we have some points to look at and work one, but the character of this team is clear to see from week one and that's something I'm very pleased with.”