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London Raiders end year on losing note

PUBLISHED: 19:47 18 December 2016 | UPDATED: 19:47 18 December 2016

London Raiders goalie Euan King takes a breather (pic John Scott)

London Raiders goalie Euan King takes a breather (pic John Scott)

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Invicta Dynamos 4 London Raiders 1

London Raiders ended 2016 on a disappointing note as they fell to their third successive National League defeat in Gillingham.

Beaten by leaders Chelmsford a week earlier, and upset 3-2 on home ice by a short-benched MK Thunder on Saturday night, Raiders came off second-best in a typically feisty clash with the Dynamos, who recorded their seventh straight win.

Raiders took to the ice without the suspended Marek Nahlik, as well as Bailey Chittock, Jacob Ranson and Mark Robinson, and saw Callum Fowler have an early effort turned over the crossbar for the hosts, before Brandon Miles fired into the pads of John Dibble at the other end.

A big hit by John Connolly on Dynamos import Adam Rehak, who appeared to suffer a wrist injury in the opening exchanges, led to a scrum of players coming together, with the Raiders defenceman picking up a 2+10 penalty for checking from behind, while Arran Strawson was given a roughing minor for his retaliation.

And a hooking call against Miles soon after gave the home side a curtailed powerplay chance, with the puck put into Euan King’s net from a right-wing cross, but the ‘goal’ ruled out due to there being a man in his crease.

Invicta opened the scoring in the seventh minute, though, when Elliot Dewey’s shot from the blue line rebounded to Ashley Jackson at close range to score.

Raiders could not capitalise on a slashing penalty against Taylor Wootton and Fowler was then hauled down on a breakaway chance, earning his side a penalty shot as JJ Pitchley was ejected with a 5+game penalty for slashing.

Nicky Lewis saw his effort saved by the glove hand of King, though, to give under-pressure Raiders a boost, but Ondrej Zosiak fired a hard shot against the crossbar from the blue line as Invicta came within an inch of doubling their lead during the major powerplay.

Tom Davis was denied by Dewey on a breakaway chance for the visitors, but Raiders fell further behind in the 17th minute, towards the end of the Pitchley penalty, when Jackson forced the puck home from close range for his second goal of the night.

And Zosiak produced two blocks to thwart Davis as the opening period drew to a close with the hosts well on top.

Raiders were given a powerplay chance early in the second period after Tommy Ralph was called for high sticks, but Miles saw a shot deflected over as Invicta survived the shorthanded spell.

Sam Roberts then caught Mason Webster with a big hit, which Strawson took umbrage to and picked up two minutes for interference, but King had to kick out a low shot from Josh Condren after a break on the left.

Taylor Wootton could not convert brother Bailey’s pass across the crease at the far post, while King produced a good save to deny Jackson his hat-trick from Rehak’s pass and keep it at 2-0, before the visitors were handed another powerplay chance towards the end of the period when Webster was binned for interference.

And they made it count as Slavomir Buda found Davis alone in the slot to fire over Dibble and into the roof of the net to halve the deficit and leave it still all to play for in the final frame.

Dynamos got the first sight of goal in the closing period when the puck fell to Lewis and he sent a first-time shot off the shoulder of King and the hosts went 3-1 up within four minutes of the restart when Zosiak carried the puck up ice from his defensive post, cut in from the wing and beat King at the near post.

Rehak was binned for high sticks soon after, with Davis forcing a save from Dibble on the latest Raiders powerplay, before Webster’s backhand effort was comfortably stopped by King.

But Webster thumpped a shot past King from Steve Osman’s pass in the 48th minute to put Dynamos 4-1 up, before Miles dropped the gloves to fight Harrison Lillis and both combatants were sent to the bin, along with Condren and Connolly, although Invicta went on the powerplay.

Buda fired a shot on the turn into the belly of Dibble, while King saved from Bailey Wootton on a breakaway, before Rehak and Julian Smith picked up coincidental minors for holding and high sticks, with the Dynamos import also handed a misconduct penalty.

Jackson deflected Strawson’s shot off the crossbar, while Thomas Beesley saw a great chance go to waste at the far post as Dibble made up ground to save, before Bailey Wootton sent the Raiders forward flying and tempers boiled over again.

Raiders went on another powerplay, with just over six minutes remaining, as Wootton was called for charging and Lewis received a misconduct penalty, but they were unable to make it count and Invicta went close again as Wootton centred for Jackson, who was thwarted by King once more.

A tripping call against Dewey ensured the Raiders would finish the match on another powerplay,

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