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London Raiders defenceman Cooper honoured to play at new rink in Romford

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 February 2018

Current Raiders and products of the old Romford junior system, Olegs Lascenko, Callum Burnett, Callum Wells, Jack Cooper, Brandon Ayliffe and Jake Sylvester with coach Alan Blyth (pic John Scott)

Current Raiders and products of the old Romford junior system, Olegs Lascenko, Callum Burnett, Callum Wells, Jack Cooper, Brandon Ayliffe and Jake Sylvester with coach Alan Blyth (pic John Scott)

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London Raiders defenceman Jack Cooper is honoured to play at the club’s new rink in Romford as they sealed a 5-2 victory against basement club Cardiff Fire.

Ice hockey returned to Romford after a near five-year absence and fans had plenty to celebrate.

Although the history books were tainted by the first goal scorer at the Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre being a Cardiff player in the name of Jackson Price.

The gold and blue outfit levelled the score through Olegs Lascenko in the 18th minute and were held at 1-1 until the final period.

The visitors regained the lead on the power play as Lewis Smith found Sam Bryant on the edge of the crease and he slipped the puck past Gray on the backhand early in the period.

Forward Matt Turner equalised in the 49th minute for the Raiders before Marek Nahlik scored the winner three minutes later.

Brandon Ayliffe and John Conolly then sealed the points by both getting on the score sheet in the final ten minutes.

Youngster Cooper, who played for Romford juniors and has played in four seasons of the five, where the club played out of Lee Valley Ice Centre believes excitement may have got the best of them on opening night.

“It was an honour to play in the first ever game back in Romford,” Cooper said.

“The experience was unreal and we were all full of excitement.

“Playing in front of a sell out home crowd on our first game with a lot of expectations made us a bit nervous I think and we didn’t get off to the best start.”

The 21-year-old admitted the noise when Lascenko slotted home the first Raiders goal in the new rink was unbelievable.

“Hearing the crowd for the first time after our first goal went in was unbelievable.”

He also gave Cardiff credit for their performance and praised their young goalie Jordan Lawday for his efforts in the match.

“Cardiff played very defensive and their goalie stood on his head for them,” he said.

“After a few more training sessions and games I believe we will make that rink a very tough place to come and play.”

Raiders then suffered a 4-3 defeat to London rivals Streatham IHC despite a late fight back the following night.

Sean Easton’s men will now turn their attention to the second match at the Sapphire as they welcome high-flying Swindon Wildcats on Wednesday evening (7.45pm).

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