Slovakian international Marek Nahlik and James Pentecost each notched hat tricks on Saturday in Lee Valley as London cruised to a 9-5 win over the Stars, and then Nahlik scored another three goals on Sunday as the Raiders defeated Solent away, 4-2.
Second-place Oxford City were no match for the Raiders as Nahlik set the tone for the match, scoring a shorthanded goal in the 11th minute to put the Raiders ahead for good.
The score remained close until the second period, when Nahlik and Pentecost chased Stars goalkeeper Tom Annetts from the match, scoring two goals apiece with John Connolly adding a powerplay goal of his own.
Oxford’s Dominic Hopkins broke the goose egg for the visitors with a 30th-minute goal, but at the end of the second stanza, UEL led 6-1.
Pentecost achieved his hat-trick early in the final period to extend London’s lead to six goals, but the Stars responded 25 seconds later courtesy of Michael Whillock.
Oxford then threw a scare into the Raiders, as captain Joshua Florey and Brendan Baird scored to make the score 7-4.
But Stars backup netminder Mark Duffy allowed another goal to Jake Pitchley, and Hallam Wilson’s late goal for Oxford was made moot by an empty-net goal for the Raiders in the final minute as London secured a 9-5 triumph.
The Raiders took to the road on the following day as they faced off with Solent. Nahlik again got the Raiders off to a flyer, scoring in the first minute.
Solent’s Matthew Lawday equalized at the start of the second period, but a short-benched Raiders side went ahead again in the 29th minute thanks to a goal from Pitchley.
Once more, though, Solent drew level as Alexander Trendall fired the puck home into the net and the game went to the final period with the Raiders outshooting Solent, 29-16, but still looking to pull ahead for good.
That happened in the final period, as Nahlik scored in the 49th and 59th minutes to secure another two points for the Raiders and vault them into third place, four points behind Oxford City for second. The Raiders have three games in hand over the Stars.
Next week, the Raiders host the Invicta Dynamos at the Lee Valley Ice Centre, with puck drop at 5:30. Then on Sunday, they travel to Chelmsford to face the league-leading Chieftains at 6:30.