Connolly relishing London Raiders challenge
PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 October 2016
Defenceman excited to face former club Chelmsford
London Raiders are set to return to action after an unexpected break with a National League cup tie against fierce rivals and defending champions Chelmsford at Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm).
Last weekend’s home match with the Isle of Wight had to be called off at short notice as the visitors could not fulfil the fixture due to their kit being locked in the Ryde Ice Arena by bailiffs.
But Raiders defenceman John Connolly, who left the Chieftains midway through last season to join the London ranks, is hoping the free weekend might work in their favour as he prepares to face his former team-mates.
“I think having the weekend off will be good for us so we are coming into this weekend nice and fresh,” said Connolly.
“I’m always excited playing against my old team-mates as you want to win and try a bit harder and I think the game will be a close one compared to last season.
“I think we as a team have improved a lot and, despite recent results, have been playing good hockey.”
Raiders lost all 10 of their league, cup and play-off meetings with Chelmsford last season, as the Essex club went on to claim a quadruple.
Alan Blyth’s Raiders have beaten Bracknell and drawn with Oxford so far in the league this season, and lost to Invicta, Streatham and Wight in the cup, while Chieftains have six wins, one draw and cup losses to Invicta and Wight to their name.
They include several former Raiders in their line-up and Connolly is only too aware of the dangers they possess, adding: “Chelmsford have had decent results in the past few weeks, so it will be all to play for on Saturday.
“The guys to watch are Matt Turner, he’s got good hands and vision on the ice and is a threat when he has the puck. And Juraj Huska is another threat as with his shot he can pretty much score from anywhere.”
Connolly and his fellow blue-liners will do their best to keep Chelmsford at bay, though, including his younger brother Ross. He added: “It felt a bit weird at first, but I’ve got used to it now and I’m really enjoying it.”