4 point weekend sees Raiders start 2017 in the perfect way

London Raiders got 2017 off to a winning start with success over Solent at Lee Valley and snapped a three-game losing streak in the National League in the process.

Two goals apiece from Slavomir Buda and Thomas Beesley were followed by a late effort from JJ Pitchley as Andy Munroe and Alan Lack enjoyed triumphant returns to the gold and blue jersey.

Forward Lack’s return had been announced on Christmas Eve, following a spell with the club in 2014/15, while the hiring of experienced defenceman Murnoe, 34, was revealed on the morning of the game.

And their inclusion helped offset the absence of suspended import Marek Nahlik, John Connolly, Bailey Chittock, Jacob Ranson and Mark Robinson and the return to his native Scotland of December’s player of the month Ross Connolly.

Two-goal Thomas Beesley fires goalwards for London Raiders against Solent (pic John Scott)Two-goal Thomas Beesley fires goalwards for London Raiders against Solent (pic John Scott)
Only 93 seconds had elapsed when Buda got the home side off to a flying start, assisted by Pitchley and Jack Cooper.

But both sides failed to capitalise on powerplay chances as the scoreline remained unchanged in the first period, with Raiders edging the shot count 11-7.

A boarding call against Buda gave Solent a man advantage in the second session and they made it count to draw level at the midway mark through Alex Murray.

Buda went from villain to hero as he restored his side’s advantage two minutes later, assisted by Matt France and Stewart Tait, and Beesley bagged his first goal of the night in the 35th minute, with Lack earning his first assist back in a Raiders shirt and captain Tom Davis also picking up a point.

New London Raiders signings Andy Munroe and Alan Lack discuss tactics during a stoppage in play (pic John Scott)New London Raiders signings Andy Munroe and Alan Lack discuss tactics during a stoppage in play (pic John Scott)
Raiders survived a spell of 5-on-3 after assistant captain Julian Smith (kneeing) and Davis (roughing) were binned towards the end of the second period and they moved 4-1 up when Beesley struck again with just over nine minutes remaining.

Euan King was beaten for a second time as Aidan Doughty scored Solent’s second goal of the evening with 5:17 left on the clock, but a hooking call against Mason Wild then gave Raiders a late powerplay chance and Pitchley raced clear to outwit Christian Cole and complete the scoring with just over a minute to go.

Raiders will now hope to complete a quickfire double over the Devils as the two sides meet again on the south coast tonight at 7pm.

Raiders: Thomas Beesley 2+1 Slavomir Buda 2 JJ Pitchley 1+1 Alan Lack 0+2 Tom Davis 0+2 Jack Cooper 0+1 Matt France 0+1 Stewart Tait 0+1.

Solent: Alex Murray 1+1 Aidan Doughty 1 Richard Facey 0+2.

Penalty minutes: Raiders 10 Solent 8.

Shots faced: Euan King (L, 59.53) 7-8-9=24-2 Christian Cole (S, 59.52) 11-15-7=33-5.

Referee: Matt Thompson.

Euan King earned a 30-save shutout as London Raiders completed a weekend double over Solent in the National League last night.
Raiders had skated to a 5-2 win over the Devils at Lee Valley on Saturday, but travelled to the south coast with just 12 skaters for the return meeting.

And the opening period was a quick, physical affair, with both sides failing to capitalise on powerplay chances before the interval.

Both sides were reduced to four skaters when Solent’s Oliver Denis was called for slashing and Raiders forward Thomas Beesley departed on a minor penalty for diving.

But Raiders broke the deadlock soon after as JJ Pitchley set up Slavomir Buda to beat Christian Cole.

There were co-incidental minors against Solent’s Aidan Doughty (boarding) and Raiders forward Sam Roberts (roughing) towards the end of the middle period and Pitchley was binned for delay of game early in the final session.

Import forward Marek Nahlik, returning from suspension, followed Pitchley to the penalty box on a high-sticking call to give Solent 75 seconds with a 5-on-3 advantage, but the visitors held out to protect their slender lead.

And no sooner had Nahlik returned to the ice, he finished off a move involving Pitchley and Alan Lack to double the Raiders lead in the 49th minute.

Solent could not find a reply in the time remaining, as King turned aside all 30 shots that came his way for a second clean sheet of the campaign, following the 4-0 win at MK Thunder on his first outing after joining from Streatham.

The four-point weekend haul moved Raiders up to third place in the table, with a home match against leaders Chelmsford to come next at Lee Valley on Saturday, before a trip to bottom club Bracknell the following evening.

Raiders: Slavomir Buda* 1 Marek Nahlik* 1 JJ Pitchley 0+2 Alan Lack 0+1.

Penalty minutes: Solent 8 Raiders 12.

Shots faced: Christian Cole (S) 11-17-13=41-2 Euan King (L) 10-9-11=30-0.

Referee: Blaine Evans.

Report courtesy of the Romford Recorder

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