London Raiders' Pitchley aims to shoot down Stars
PUBLISHED: 17:00 24 March 2017
Forward excited for National League play-offs
London Raiders forward JJ Pitchley cannot wait to return to the ice to take on Oxford City Stars in the National League play-offs this weekend.
The 23-year-old was suspended for the last two matches of the regular season, as Raiders lost 3-0 at home to Streatham, but then came back from three goals down to draw 4-4 in Oxford.
That saw them finish in fifth place, two points behind their play-off opponents, and there was very little between the two sides during their four meetings this season.
After a 6-6 draw in east London in September, Oxford skated to a 9-3 home win in October, before Raiders triumphed 9-5 in November.
Stars then looked on course for another win in the university city as they built a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes, but captain Tom Davis scored twice in the final period and Alan Lack levelled it up with his second goal of the night with only 11 seconds remaining.
Pitchley said: “I’m hugely excited, as I think all the boys are. This is the part of the season that everyone loves. The rink has this buzz, that is amazing to play in front of.
“Oxford are a good team and have a few guys missing, but that doesn’t make them any easier to beat.
“We can beat them and have done earlier on this year. After the comeback two weeks ago in Oxford I was massively impressed with the boys being short-staffed.”
Raiders have home advantage for the first leg on Saturday (5.30pm), before the two sides meet again in the return on Sunday (6.15pm), and the winners of the tie will face either league and cup champions Chelmsford or Bracknell in the semi-finals.
Pitchley added; “I’m excited to see if we can get the rink packed on Saturday and as many fans in Oxford on Sunday.
“A good practice on Thursday will lead is into Saturday and I have a good feeling about this year.
“It will be good to show all the teams who doubted us this year what the gold and blue can do!”