Pillaging Raiders Aim To Finish Strong

A thrilling weekend is in store for the London Raiders as the regular season draws to a close this, as Anna Rota reports.

The Raiders face Streatham Redhawks on Saturday at the Lee Valley Ice Centre, before taking on the Oxford City Stars away at the Oxford Ice Rink on Sunday in the final game of the season.

To the playoffs

Training and focus will be key for the east London club as they will be looking to improve their league position to get a better draw in the playoffs.

Despite that, London CEO John Scott insisted that the team is not putting any additional pressure on themselves, saying: “The Raiders are very familiar with both teams that they face this weekend so preparations will not be greatly changed to the normal training sessions.”

As the league stands right now the Raiders will be facing two clubs which are above them in the league as Streatham are in third place and Oxford City sit in fourth. London, meanwhile, are two points behind Oxford City in fifth.

Winning attitude

As the teams are all facing each other this weekend their places in the league could potentially change. But Scott is fairly certain that the Raiders will be in a fourth-versus-fifth battle against Oxford City.

He also clarified that picking up two wins this weekend was not fundamental in terms of playoff placing, but the Raiders CEO added that it plays a crucial role “in terms of taking some momentum and a winning attitude into the season’s grand finale; winning is the habit we want to keep.”

However, if the Raiders should succeed in moving past the Stars in the league table over the weekend, it will give them one slight advantage. The quarterfinals will be played over two legs, home and away, and it is customary that the team higher in the league get to choose whether to play home or away first.

But again, Scott does not place a high priority on this, and he has a good reason why. He said: “The higher team would normally choose the home date but in our instance this is unlikely to be an issue. Raiders prefer Saturday home games and all the other teams we are likely to be grouped with prefer Sunday home games so we are all likely to get our preferred dates regardless.”

Challenging games

Last time London played against Streatham the Raiders secured an incredible 5-3 away victory just after suffering a painful defeat the day before against the league champions Chelmsford Chieftains.

Scott praised his team for that performance, saying “For many that was unexpected and it showed the resilience of the team after a confidence-sapping loss.”

Back in early November, London faced Oxford City in an incredible game which saw the Raiders trounce the Stars, 9-3.

But Scott admitted that games at the Oxford Ice Rink are always quite tough as they have an amazing atmosphere, with a passionate and noisy crowd cheering on their team.

And unfortunately this weekend the Raiders will be without their top scorers Marek Nahlik and J Pitchley.

It is not going to be easy for the Raiders without them, but if they are able to get the wins despite it all, it will boost their confidence and lead them into the playoffs with a renewed spirit.

Favourites

The first round of the playoffs will take place from March 25th– 26th and if the Raiders progress into the semifinal they are likely to face Chelmsford during the weekend of April 1st-2nd.

“It has been a long time since we faced Chelmsford when we were at full strength and if we get the chance I know the lads would love another chance to get a win against the favourites,” said Scott.

This weekend

Puck drop at the Lee Valley Ice Centre for the Raiders match against Streatham will be at 5:30 on Saturday. Their away match to Oxford will start at 6:15. If you can’t attend the games, follow the Raiders on Twitter for updates at @LonRaiders_IHC.