Ice hockey: Swindon 9 Raiders 2
PUBLISHED: 20:44 04 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:51 05 January 2020
Everyone Active Raiders began 2020 on the wrong end of an emphatic defeat against high-flying Swindon at the Link Centre on Saturday.
Raiders travelled without Callum Wells and Jack Flynn, as well as the suspended Mason Webster and long-term injured trio Brad Windebank, Ross Connolly and Callum Burnett.
But they had Michael Gray back on the bench as back-up to Ethan James, having lost 4-1 to the Wildcats on home ice a week earlier.
Tomasz Malasinski had a couple of early efforts for the hosts go wide, while Blaho Novak was off-target with the first notable attempt by Raiders.
Chris Jones and Loris Taylor forced James into a couple of saves in quick succession, while Jones had another attempt deflected wide by the stick of Dan Scott, before Tyler Vankleef was off target.
James blocked another shot from Malasinski as the scoreline remained blank at the 10-minute mark, but a clipping penalty against Brandon Ayliffe and hooking call against Jack Cooper gave Swindon a brief spell of 5-on-3.
And they broke the deadlock soon after Ayliffe's return with a power play goal from Edbars Bebris.
An interference call against Scott handed the hosts another man advantage and they needed only 21 seconds to convert thanks to Malasinski.
Then, having killed off a slashing minor against Tyler Plews, Wildcats added a third with just six seconds of the period remaining through Jones to leave Raiders with a mountain to climb.
Lukas Sladkovsky had a hard shot saved by Renny Marr early in the middle session, while the home goalie also thwarted Erik Piatak before Sam Bullas shot wide on the turn.
But Raiders then fell foul of the officials again as Ollie Baldock was binned for holding and Piatak was given a 2+10 penalty for boarding just 19 seconds later.
James blocked a long shot from Aaron Nell as the visitors successfully killed off both minor penalties, before Scott's right-wing shot was blocked by Marr, and Floyd Taylor was also denied by the young Raiders goalie.
Raiders were handed their first power play chance in the 34th minute when Loris Taylor was called for charging, with veteran defenceman Neil Liddiard handed a 2+10 penalty for a check from behind after a hit on JJ Pitchley.
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Swindon survived the 56 seconds of 5-on-3 and Marr kept out Jake Sylvester's shot before the Liddiard minor expired to protect the 3-0 lead, before Novak's shot from the right was denied.
And, although Piatak then returned from his long absence, Wildcats then struck twice inside the last two minutes of the period through Luc Johnson and Nell to widen the gap to five after 40 minutes.
The final period was only 91 seconds old when Bebris bagged his second goal of the night to make it 6-0 and he struck again soon after to complete a hat-trick.
Marr made way for Michael Crisp with 15 minutes remaining but Wildcats added an eighth soon after through Toms Rutkis.
James was then replaced between the Raiders pipes by Gray and although Ayliffe ensured Raiders would not be shut out, converting Sladkovsky's pass, it was 9-1 less than a minute later as Malasinski scored unassisted.
A tripping penalty to Vankleef gave Raiders a power play chance and Scott sent a long shot wide of Crisp's net before Jacob Ranson netted a second goal for the visitors on assists from Piatak and Olegs Lascenko.
And Swindon lost Steve Whitfield to a slashing penalty with just under six minutes to play, although Piatak picked up a game misconduct at the same time.
Ayliffe was called for hooking, with Vankleef binned for holding the opponent's stick 21 seconds later and Fuller was then handed a holding penalty to give Swindon a 4-on-3 power play in the closing stages.
Raiders saw that off, before Cooper was called for slashing with only 29 seconds left on the clock in the final act of the night.
Sean Easton's men will hope for better when they return to the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre in Romford to host bottom club Leeds Chiefs on Sunday (5.15pm).
Swindon: Edgars Bebris 3, Tomasz Malasinski* 2+1, Chris Jones 1+1, Aaron Nell 1+1, Toms Rutkis 1+1, Luc Johnson 1, Max Birbraer 0+3, Floyd Taylor 0+1, Loris Taylor 0+1, Stephen Whitfield 0+1, Renny Marr 0+1, Tyler Vankleef 0+1, Ben Nethersell 0+1.
Raiders: Brandon Ayliffe 1, Jacob Ranson 1, Lukas Sladkovsky* 0+1, Blaho Novak 0+1, Erik Piatak* 0+1, Olegs Lascenko 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Swindon 20 Raiders 46.
Shots on goal: Renny Marr (S, 44.46) 12-17-2=31-0, Michael Crisp (S, 14.43) 13-2, empty net (0.31); Ethan James (R, 46.20) 13-13-7=33-8, Michael Gray (R, 13.40) 10-1.