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London Raiders shoot down Stars in play-offs

PUBLISHED: 20:49 26 March 2017 | UPDATED: 20:54 26 March 2017

London Raiders import Marek Nahlik beats Oxford goalie Mark Duffy (pic John Scott)

London Raiders import Marek Nahlik beats Oxford goalie Mark Duffy (pic John Scott)

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Oxford City Stars 1 London Raiders 7 (Raiders win 11-3 aggregate)

London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley scores one of his three goals in the first leg of their play-off with Oxford (pic John Scott) London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley scores one of his three goals in the first leg of their play-off with Oxford (pic John Scott)

London Raiders produced an excellent attacking display to shoot down the Stars in Oxford and book their place in the last four of the National League play-offs.

Having come from two goals down to win the first leg 4-2 on home ice, Raiders extended their scoring streak to 11 unanswered goals before their rivals claimed a late consolation.

JJ Pitchley picked up a holding penalty with nine minutes gone, but Raiders survived the shorthanded spell and opened the scoring soon after to extend their aggregate lead.

Having netted a natural hat-trick at Lee Valley on Saturday, Pitchley continued his scoring streak as he converted from Andy Munroe’s pass.

London Raiders forward Slavomir Buda attacks the Oxford net (pic John Scott) London Raiders forward Slavomir Buda attacks the Oxford net (pic John Scott)

And it was 2-0 after 15 minutes on the night as Marek Nahlik claimed an unassisted effort to leave the home side with a mountain to climb.

A penalty against Thomas Beesley went unpunished by Oxford’s powerplay unit late in the first period and Raiders made them pay with just 13 seconds left on the clock as Nahlik struck again from a Tom Davis pass to widen the overall gap to five.

Oxford replaced Mark Duffy with Tom Annetts for the second period, but he was beaten within eight minutes as Munroe fired through his pads from Slavomir Buda’s pass for the fourth Raiders goal.

Nahlik completed his hat-trick from Stewart Tait’s pass less than a minute later and it was 6-0 when Sam Roberts and Beesley combined to set up defenceman Tait, making it 10 unanswered goals for Raiders over the course of four periods.

London Raiders defenceman Andy Munroe attacks against Oxford (pic John Scott) London Raiders defenceman Andy Munroe attacks against Oxford (pic John Scott)

The visitors killed off a penalty against Alan Lack early in the final period to further frustrate Oxford, but could not then capitalise on a powerplay of their own after a holding call against Alan Green.

Lack and Josh Oliver were next to head to the penalty box, on slashing calls, and Raiders notched their seventh goal of the night with six minutes left when Pitchley converted again, assisted by Julian Smith and John Connolly.

But Oxford ended Euan King’s hopes of a shutout soon after, as Dom Hopkins got his name on the scoresheet, although it could not spoil a great night for Raiders, who will now set their sights on upsetting league champions and cup winners Chelmsford in the semi-finals next weekend.

Scorers, Oxford: Dominic Hopkins 1 Ben Paynter 0+1 Alan Green 0+1.

Raiders: Marek Nahlik 3 JJ Pitchley 2 Andy Munroe 1+1 Stewart Tait 1+1 Sam Roberts 0+1 John Connolly 0+1 Thomas Beesley 0+1 Slavomir Buda 0+1 Tom Davis 0+1 Julian Smith 0+1.

Penalty minutes: Oxford 8 Raiders 10.

Shots faced: Mark Duffy (O, 20.00) 10-3 Tom Annetts (O, 40.00) 13-9=22-4 Euan King (L) 11-9-8=28-1.

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