National League: Invicta 1 London Raiders 7
Raiders eased to a comfortable win over Invicta in Gillingham on Saturday to keep their top-four hopes alive.
After all the excitement of their wins against Cardiff and Swindon in their new Romford home rink at Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre, Raiders travelled to Kent without defencemen Andy Munroe and Callum Burnett.
But they took the lead inside two minutes as Jake Sylvester found Ollie Baldock unmarked in front of John Dibble to fire into the roof of the net and it was 2-0 before the four-minute mark as Juraj Huska beat Ondrej Zosiak and fired a slapshot into the bottom corner of the net.
Michael Gray made two decent saves as Invicta went on a power play, after Matt Turner was called for interference, but Tom Davis was inches away from a third Raiders goal as his shot hit the inside of a post and bounced clear.
Gray kicked out a low shot from Harrison Lillis, then pushed aside Arran Strawson’s wristshot, before Sylvester thundered a drive into the chest of Dibble at the other end.
But a delay of game minor penalty against Marek Nahlik handed the hosts another man advantage in the final minute of the first period, with Gray reacting well to save from Tommy Ralph.
Raiders killed off the rest of the penalty at the start of the middle session and saw Gray deny Scott Bailey and Mason Webster at close range, then keep out George Hoang’s shot from the left face-off circle.
And it was 3-0 in the 25th minute as Nahlik sent a wristshot over Dibble from the slot, assisted by Alan Lack.
Gray denied Strawson a quick reply, when the puck fell to the Dynamos defenceman in the high slot, and he also thwarted Jaroslav Cesky at the far post, before Sylvester sent a wristshot off the arm of Dibble.
Mason Webster saw a quick shot hit the top of Gray’s stick and stay out as he looked for a gap at the near post, before Wells had a low slapshot stopped and smothered by Dibble.
And Raiders went 4-0 up with just over four minutes left in the period, with a quick counter-attack that ended with Huska’s cross-ice pass being drilled over Dibble, first time, by Olegs Lascenko.
But Invicta broke their duck with just 18 seconds left on the clock as Cesky found Hoang to finally send the puck past Gray and give the hosts a glimmer of hope heading into the final frame.
Raiders restored their four-goal cushion just 33 seconds after the restart as Lascenko set up Huska for his second goal of the night.
And Nahlik went close to another, beating his man on the left and firing off the far post, before Huska and Turner combined to set up Lascenko at the far post for the sixth.
Baldock was called for slashing as the match headed into the last 10 minutes, but Nahlik netted a shorthanded seventh for Raiders, after a mistake by Ralph, to complete a hat-trick against his former club.
JJ Pitchley was then binned for tripping Brandon Webster, as Baldock’s penalty came to an end, to hand Invicta another power play chance, but Raiders survived without much alarm.
Davis and Strawson dropped the gloves after clashing behind the play in the closing seconds, but it was a mere footnote as Sean Easton’s men made it eight wins in eight against the Dynamos this season.
Raiders return to their new Romford home to entertain Basingstoke at the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre next Sunday (February 18).
Invicta: George Hoang 1, Jaroslav Cesky* 0+1, Mason Webster.
Raiders: Juraj Huska* 2+2, Olegs Lascenko 2+1, Marek Nahlik* 2, Ollie Baldock 1, Matt Turner 0+2, Thomas Beesley 0+1, Alan Lack 0+1, Julian Smith 0+1, Jake Sylvester 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Invicta 8, Raiders 12.
Shots on goal: John Dibble (I) 14-12-17=43-7, Michael Gray (L) 16-15-12=43-1.
Report courtesy of the Romford Recorder