London Raiders look to upset champions in play-offs
PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 March 2017
We can shock Chelmsford says captain Davis
London Raiders will look to upset the odds when they take on National League champions and cup winners Chelmsford in the play-off semi-finals this weekend.
Raiders welcome their fierce rivals to Lee Valley for the first leg tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm), before facing a return at the Riverside Arena the following evening.
And they know the Chieftains will be favourites, having already claimed an 8-2 aggregate win over the Raiders in the cup semi-finals in late February.
But captain Tom Davis, having seen his side ease past Oxford in the first round of the play-offs last weekend, sees no reason why Raiders cannot produce a shock.
He said: “Everyone knows we are the underdogs, but if we play like we can and we did against Oxford then I could see an upset being caused.
“It’s going to take hard work and playing as a unit, but again, we have shown already this season we can do that.”
Raiders won their first two meetings of the season with Chelmsford, in the group stage of the cup competition, but then lost all four league meetings and the cup semi-final matches.
And they had to come from two goals down to beat Oxford on home ice last weekend, with JJ Pitchley firing a hat-trick on his return from a two-game suspension, after Marek Nahlik had found the net for the first Raiders goal.
Davis added: “Saturday we knew we had no easy task on our plate and it was going to be a tough 120 minutes over the course of the weekend.
“We started the first period slow and that cost us to go 2-0 down. But we came together during the period break and knew we hadn’t shown up and had to do better.
“For the next 40 minutes we were by far the better team and we pulled the game back and went on to win.”
Raiders travelled to Oxford the following night, having come from three goals down against the Stars on their previous visit to draw their last match of the regular season.
And they put the tie well and truly beyond doubt as Pitchley potted two more goals, Nahlik helped himself to a treble and defencemen Andy Munroe and Stewart Tait also got in on the act.
Dominic Hopkins denied Euan King a shutout late on, but Raiders skated off 7-1 winners to the delight of their travelling supporters and Davis added: “Sunday was a nervous game as we knew from previous results and the way Oxford play at home that the play-off double-header was far from done.
“But we came out flying and did everything we had to do to win. We battled hard for the full 60 minutes and that’s why we got the 7-1 win. The fans were fantastic and played a big part.”
Alan Lack echoed those sentiments and feels a full-strength Raiders are a match for anyone on their night, adding: “The two games at the weekend were massive for us and it has got us through to the semi-finals with a huge boost of confidence.
“Having the team at full strength for the whole weekend, shows what we can do as a team. Now we’re looking forward to this weekend – it’s going to be a big one.”