Raiders bounce back with a win

Slavomir Buda’s hat-trick helped London Raiders rebound from defeat against National League leaders Chelmsford to beat bottom club Bracknell in Berkshire.

Beaten 6-0 by the table-topping Chieftains in Lee Valley on Saturday, Raiders headed west without defencemen Andy Munroe and Stewart Tait, plus forward Jacob Ranson, which left them with just 12 skaters and goalie Euan King.

And King had to be alert early on to deny new Hornets import Chris Leykam, from Harvey Hind-Pitcher’s excellent pass.

Alan Lack saw his tip on Matt France’s shot saved by Milan Ronai, before Raiders opened the scoring with a classic breakout goal from JJ Pitchley, netting against his former club.

But Leykam went close again with a backhand shot forcing a save from King, before Raiders captain Tom Davis clash with Josh Ealey-Newman.

Bracknell went on the powerplay as a result, with King denying Ben Ealey-Newman at close range before shorthanded Raiders doubled their advantage as Buda pounced on a loose puck when Pitchley’s shot was saved to slam home.

Ben Ealey-Newman fired wide for the hosts before both sides picked up further penalties and Smith was also binned for interence to leave his side to defend a 4-on-3.

But Raiders’ penalty-killers worked hard to keep Bracknell at bay, until just after the powerplay when Tom Avery skated in and found the top corner.

Davis and Ben Ealey-Newman dropped the gloves soon after and produced an even contest, with both receiving four minutes in penalties, and Raiders went on the powerplay late in the period after Thomas Beesley was hooked as he tried to skate in on goal.

The visitors went 3-1 up early in the middle session when Buda showed quick reflexes at the far post to tuck the puck away for his second goal of the night, with the Slovakian completing his first hat-trick for the club soon after when tipping the puck past Ronai, who was unsighted by Lack.

Bracknell tried to rally, with Josh Ealey-Newman winning the puck just outside the Raiders blue line and skating into the zone to set up Leykam, whose quick shot was saved by King.

But Lack then had several whacks at the puck at close range, before Ronai covered it and one of the Bracknell defencemen checked the Raiders forward.

Both sides ended up with a player in the penalty box once again, with Davis then sent to the ice by Jordan Gregory and Buda’s pass setting up Sam Roberts for a chance that he could not convert.

Raiders went 5-1 up when Brandon Miles saw his shot squirm through Ronai, but Josh Martin hit back immediately for the hosts, speeding clear to fire past King.

Hornets then replaced Ronai with Nathan Gregory, who was soon picking the puck out of his net as Miles fired past his glove hand for a second goal against his former club.

A high-sticking penalty against Tom Fisher gave Raiders a powerplay chance and Davis fired in a big shot from the point, with Pitchley making a nuisance of himself in front of the net, to make it 7-2 at the end of the period.

King saved well from former Raiders import Michal Oravec as Bracknell began the final stanza on a powerplay, following a tripping call against Smith, and the visiting goalie produced a double save to deny Martin, on a breakaway and then at point blank range.

And, despite the home side continuing to push forward in search of more consolation, Raiders held on to their five-goal lead to skate off with the points.

Report courtesy of the Romford Recorder

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