National League: Swindon 9 Raiders 6
PUBLISHED: 20:42 21 September 2019 | UPDATED: 20:42 21 September 2019
Everyone Active Raiders suffered defeat at Swindon in their opening match of the new National League season after a goal feast in Wiltshire.
The visitors looked on course for a mauling at the hands of the Wildcats as they conceded seven times before the midway point, but they rallied with six unanswered goals to threaten a remarkable comeback.
The hosts had the last word, though, with two late goals to skate off with the points as Raiders left empty-handed.
Barely three minutes had been played when Swindon opened the scoring through Neil Liddiard, although Raiders were convinced the puck had not crossed the goalline.
And although Max Birbraer was then called for hooking, the home side doubled their lead while shorthanded through Edgars Bebris.
Raiders were caught with too many men on the ice midway through the opening period and Wildcats made them pay as Sam Bullas converted on the power play to make it 3-0.
And when Lukas Sladkovsky was called for elbows with less than two minutes left in the session, Swindon made their extra man count again through Bebris to comlete a miserable first period for the visitors, who were outshot 13-6 in those 20 minutes.
Aaron Nell added a fifth Swindon goal just 36 seconds into the middle period and it was 6-0 in the 27th minute as Tomasz Malasinski got in on the act.
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A netminder interference penalty against Jake Sylvester handed the hosts another power play chance seconds later and Chris Jones converted number seven to continue the misery.
But a hooking call against Birbraer gave Raiders a power play chance and Blaho Novak's unassisted goal broke the Swindon shutout.
After waiting 33 minutes to find the net, Raiders got a second goal just 13 seconds later through Novak once again, assisted by Mason Webster and Olegs Lascenko.
And a third followed courtesy of Brandon Ayliffe, who pounced after Sylvester had been denied from Ollie Baldock's pass.
Steve Whitfield was binned for holding to give Raiders another power play late in the period and, although the hosts survived the shorthanded spell, it was 7-4 in the final minute as Novak completed his hat-trick.
The final period was barely a minute old when Raiders netted their fifth unanswered goal as a long shot from Lascenko was tipped by Ayliffe past Renny Marr to close the gap to two.
And although Raiders could not capitalise when Bebris was called for kneeing, they made it a one-goal game with just over 11 minutes remaining as Sylvester netted their sixth goal without reply with a wraparound finish.
Hopes of the great escape were dashed when Swindon stopped the rot with their eighth goal in the 52nd minute, as Floyd Taylor beat Michael Gray on his blocker side.
And it was 9-6 with just over five minutes left to play as Birbraer finally found the net, before Sladkovsky missed a late penalty shot chance as he lifted the pick over the crossbar.
Raiders return to Romford to host Basingstoke at the Sapphire on Sunday (5.15pm).
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