Team boss vows to strengthen as Raiders dominate in first win since December, as Don McDermott reports
London Raider’s CEO John Scott has confirmed they will look to strengthen the squad before the start of next season. An emphatic home performance saw the Raiders finally end their 14-game winless run as they demolished the Milton Keynes Thunder, 8-2, on Saturday evening.
Captain Tom Davis and Slovakian international Marek Nahlik each scored twice for the Raiders, and Matt France, Mason Webster, Michal Oravec and TJ Fillery also found the back of the net as the East London side increased their lead in the final playoff spot to seven points over Bracknell.
The Raiders hadn’t won since defeating Streatham in mid-December, which Scott attributed to the injury of assistant captain Liam Chong.
Scott said, “I think we’ve been quite unlucky, losing a key player in Liam Chong. This is our first win since Liam was injured, which possibly indicates the level of influence he has.”
Scott added that finishing near the bottom of the table was not what the Raiders wanted from this season, however he was still able to highlight some positives.
He said, “We’ve got a lot of youngsters in this team, we’ve got a young coach who’s still learning the business. Were we expecting a bit more from this year? Yes, probably. But we’re starting to talk about rosters for next year, players that we’d like to keep, players that we might like to introduce. I think with the addition of defencemen Matt France and John Connolly [we can be a lot stronger]. It would be great to have them back here next season to bolster the defence we’ve got already.
“Youngsters like Seb Downing and Bailey Chittock are showing a lot of promise. And if we can add at least two quality players, I think we are sure to see a very different set of results. We have been very unlucky [this year] though, there’s been a lot of games where we’ve outshot the opposition.”
Against the Thunder, the potential of the Raiders was clear to see as they controlled the game right from the start. Man of the Match Nahlik put them ahead in the sixth minute, unleashing a slap shot into the top of the net.
The Raiders even dominated on an early penalty kill, an area where they have particularly struggled recently, holding possession for most of Mark Robinson’s hooking penalty and pilling even more pressure on Milton Keynes.
The Raiders’ second goal came in the final minutes of the first period. A quick snap shot from Davis finally beat Thunder goalie Spencer Caminsky after he had blocked successive shots from Nahlik and David Oliver.
Webster joined in on the fun just 90 seconds into the second period, scoring the Raiders third goal with an assist from Nahlik.
The Raiders maintained their relentless pressure as France, Davis and Fillery each added a goal in the course of just under four minutes.
The Thunder desperately called a 30-second timeout which appeared to give them some momentum as they mustered two goals in just 13 seconds. The Raiders, however, weathered the storm and the Slovakians Oravec and Nahlik, each scored in the final period to conclude the victory.
Despite the impressive win, the Raiders finished up their weekend on a sour note. An 8-5 defeat to Bracknell on Sunday night saw their eight-place lead fall to just five points.
The Raiders will look to bounce back as they again face Bracknell away on Saturday in a must-win match.