Understrength Thunder silence London Raiders
PUBLISHED: 10:00 18 December 2016
London Raiders 2 MK Thunder 3
London Raiders slumped to a shock defeat against a shortbenched MK Thunder at Lee Valley last night.
And to make matters worse, they saw import forward and leading scorer Marek Nahlik ejected with a match penalty which rules him out of their trip to the Invicta Dynamos tonight (Sunday).
Raiders had skated to a 6-3 win over Thunder when the two sides met in east London a week earlier and welcomed captain Julian Smith back from injury, while also giving a debut to new signing Brandon Miles.
The visitors, meanwhile, arrived with just nine skaters and vastly experienced player-coach Nick Chinn, captain Jamie Line and Tom Mboya were among the absentees.
Raiders saw JJ Pitchley called for an early tripping penalty, but broke the deadlock while shorthanded through Tom Davis, assisted by Nahlik and Smith.
And after failing to capitalise on their first powerplay chance of the night, when Ross Green was binned for interference, the hosts doubled their advantage during their next man advantage, after Harrison Goode was binned for tripping, as Nahlik netted his 23rd goal of the season.
Raiders had been outshot 13-8 in the opening period, though, and the two sides combined for just 10 on-target attempts during the middle session, when Thunder halved the deficit through Boris Ruzicka’s unassisted shorthanded effort, as Green served another tripping penalty.
The home side’s powerplay unit failed to click again as Nidal Phillips (holding) and Connor Goode (tripping) fell foul of referee Jurijs Solovjovs and they lost Davis to a tripping call of his own with only seven seconds left in the period.
And Thunder made them pay as Green levelled things up on their powerplay with barely a minute played in the final period.
Frustrated Raiders saw Pitchley called for a 2+10 penalty for checking from behind in the 47th minute, virtually ruling him out of the rest of the match, and Smith was binned for interference before Nahlik was ejected for checking to the head in the 50th minute.
Thunder struck less than a minute into the major powerplay, as stand-in skipper Green grabbed his second goal of the night, and they held on for victory as Raiders fired just three shots at David Wride in the third period and 17 in total over the course of the match.
Scorers, Raiders: Nahlik 1+1 Davis 1 Smith 0+2.
Thunder: Green 2 Ruzicka 1 Klima 0+1 H Goode 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Raiders 47 Thunder 14.
Shots faced: Euan King (L, 59:16) 29-3 David Wride (MK) 17-2.