Huska hat-trick hits London Raiders hopes
PUBLISHED: 20:28 01 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:28 01 April 2017
London Raiders 1 Chelmsford Chieftains 5
London Raiders were left with a mountain to climb in their National League play-off after defeat against champions Chelmsford in the first leg of their semi-final at Lee Valley.
Juraj Huska returned to haunt his former club with a hat-trick for the Chieftains putting them firmly in control for the return leg at the Riverside Ice Arena on Sunday evening.
Huska was called for an early holding penalty, but Raiders could not take advantage of the powerplay and then saw Brandon Miles called for roughing midway through the opening period.
The visitors could not make their extra man count but did open the scoring soon after Raiders returned to full strength thanks to Huska’s first goal of the night.
Raiders edged the shot count 14-12 in the opening session, but could not find a way past Sonny Phillips and conceded a second goal early in the middle period as Carl Graham found the net.
Slavomir Buda halved the deficit to give Raiders hope, but Huska restored the two-goal cushion with his second goal of the tie, with only 13 seconds left in the period.
And when Julian Smith was given a minor roughing penalty early in the final stanza, Huska made his former club pay once more with a powerplay goal to complete his treble and make it 4-1.
Grant Bartlett skated clear to beat Euan King and claim Chelmsford’s fifth goal, with 14 minutes still left in the match, and Raiders lost Miles to a 10-minute misconduct penalty soon after.
The home side avoided any further damage to the scoreline, but were unable to make any inroads as Phillips took the man of the match award for Chieftains.
And Raiders will now have to produce one of the biggest comebacks in their 30-year history if they are to overturn the deficit in the second leg and set up a final meeting with either Streatham or Invicta.