London Raiders sunk by Solent late show
PUBLISHED: 20:31 05 March 2017 | UPDATED: 20:31 05 March 2017
London Raiders 2 Solent Devils 4
London Raiders suffered late heartache against Solent to leave their hopes of a top-three finish in the National League hanging by a thread.
They fought back from 2-0 down thanks to goals from Alan Lack and captain Tom Davis, only to concede twice in the last 65 seconds to fall to defeat.
And the loss leaves them in fifth place, three points ahead of Solent, ahead of hosting Streatham in their final home match of the regular season next Saturday, before visiting Oxford the following evening.
Raiders, who were again without import and leading scorer Marek Nahlik due to a rib injury, had won the previous three meetings between the sides, by 4-2 and 2-0 margins on the south coast either side of a 5-2 home victory.
But only 25 seconds were on the clock when Matt Lawday managed to squeeze the puck between Euan King’s pad and the post to give Solent – 3-2 winners over Invicta the night before – the perfect start in east London.
A hooking call against Julian Smith gave the visitors the first powerplay of the night, but Raiders survived and then forced Christian Cole into action with a barrage of shots, before also killing off an interference minor against JJ Pitchley.
Lack was called for slashing and interference minors in quick succession, but Solent could not capitalise and then picked up their first penalty of the night in the 17th minute as Mason Wild was binned for holding.
Tempers boiled over on the boards late in the period, with the two captains called over by the referee, who then gave Lack and Wild roughing minors and London’s Jack Cooper a 2+10 penalty for checking from behind.
Solent dominated the shot count 14-7 in the opening stanza and they doubled their lead within four minutes of the middle session as Aidan Doughty beat King, assisted by Richard Facey and Ben Lock.
But Raiders were then given a powerplay chance when Luke Tull was called for tripping and they made it count as Lack halved the deficit at 26:43, assisted by John Connolly and Andy Munroe.
Lack was back in the penalty box just past the midway mark, though, after being called for interference and Raiders had to also kill off a bench minor penalty for being caught with too many men on the ice towards the end of the period, when the shots were even at 15-15, to keep it a one-goal game.
Play was held up at the start of the final session, due to problems with the ice, but Raiders were back on terms through captain Tom Davis after six minutes of action, assisted by Lack and Sam Roberts.
And the hosts were then given a powerplay chance soon after as Lawday was called for tripping, which they could not make count, before Roberts was penalised for the same offence with just under eight minutes remaining.
Solent’s powerplay unit also failed to make the breakthrough, leaving the match still on the line going into the closing stages, and the visitors grabbed their third goal of the night with 65 seconds left through Doughty.
Raiders immediately called a timeout and then removed King for an extra skater with 45 seconds on the clock, but the move backfired as Solent’s Facey fired into the empty net for their fourth goal of the contest.