National League: MK Thunder 5 London Raiders 7
PUBLISHED: 20:54 17 September 2017 | UPDATED: 20:54 17 September 2017
London Raiders held off a spirited fightback from MK Thunder to open their National League account with a win.
Beaten at home by Streatham in the cup competition a day earlier, Raiders skated into a 6-1 lead by the 29th minute.
But the home side hit back with four unanswered goals, before Raiders made sure of the points late on.
The visitors opened the scoring on a powerplay as Jake Sylvester found space to beat Tom Annetts.
And they quickly doubled their lead as Olegs Lascenko saw a shot blocked and captain Tom Davis pounced to convert the rebound.
Jamie Line hit back for the home side in the 15th minute, but Raiders deservedly restored their two-goal advantage just 11 seconds later as Alan Lack fired home, as they dominated the shot count 18-7.
The middle period was barely four minutes old when Raiders netted their fourth as Matt Turner saw his shot saved and Marek Nahlik reacted quickest to fire home the loose puck.
And JJ Pitchley got in on the act with a powerplay goal at 27:44, before Olegs Lascenko netted a shorthanded sixth just 42 seconds later, as Jack Cooper served an interference minor.
The hosts hit back less than a minute later on the same powerplay, though, as Rio Grinnell-Parke netted against his former Raiders team-mates, but Juraj Huska was a whisker away moments later when ringing a shot off the goal frame.
Ross Bowers bagged a third for Thunder with just over four minutes remaining in the period, to cut the gap to three heading into the final stanza.
And it was down to two just four minutes after the restart as Grinnell-Parke got his second goal of the night for the hosts.
Raiders called a timeout soon after, but with less than 10 minutes to play, Thunder gave themselves real hope as Ross Green grabbed their fifth on a powerplay, with Brandon Ayliffe serving a high-sticking penalty, to leave Raiders nerve jangling.
But Raiders capitalised on a man advantage of their own with less than four minutes on the clock as Huska played Pitchley through and he slipped the puck under Annetts for his second goal of the night to make sure of the points.
Thunder: Grinnell-Parke 2, Green 1+1, Linne 1+1, Bowers 1, Whyte 0+2, Carlon 0+1, Quiney 0+1, Christie 0+1.
Raiders: Pitchley 2, Nahlik* 1+2, Lascenko 1+1, Davis 1, Lack 1, Sylvester 1, Connolly 0+2, Barry 0+2, Turner 0+1, Baldock 0+1, Huska* 0+1, Smith 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Thunder 6 Raiders 6.
Shots faced: Annetts (MK) 18-14-12=44-7 King (L) 7-16-13=36-5.
Referee: Tim Pickett.