Raiders CEO John Scott tells Don McDermott he is excited about the return of assistant captain Liam Chong and the positive impact it will have on the team as the playoffs near.
London Raiders CEO John Scott said the team can breathe a sigh of relief after clinching a playoff spot last weekend, and added that he is optimistic about his team’s chances in the playoffs, particularly with the much-anticipated return of assistant captain Liam Chong.
Chong, who will return to the side for this weekend’s league fixtures, has been sidelined since the turn of the new year with a hand injury, and the Raiders have often struggled in his absence.
“It was a relief to finally get the points required to see the Raiders squeeze into the playoffs. I am sure that the team and management feel that it should have been a far more comfortable margin in the end,” Scott said.
“Our ambitions at the start of the season had certainly been higher than eighth place, but I suspect few teams in our league spend so much time with the puck on their stick and failing to hit the opponents net.
“It is so frustrating for all that the team can spend five minutes buzzing around the opponents’ goal and then a poor pass sees a breakaway that we concede from, and that seems to happen time after time.”
The Raiders will face league-leaders Chelmsford Chieftains in the first round of the playoffs. The encounter will be divided into home and away legs, both of which are to be played over the weekend of April the 2nd, and the aggregate winner will go through. As the higher-ranked side, Chelmsford will choose whether to play home or away first.
The Raiders have struggled this season against Chelmsford, losing all seven of their meetings. But Scott said that the Raiders are happy with the draw.
“It has been expected for some weeks that we would face Chelmsford in the first playoff game and given the choice between them and Invicta Dynamos I think we generally prefer our chances against the league champions,” he said.
“Whilst we have only managed a single point against either team I personally think we perform better against Chelmsford. For our fans I guess the journey to the Essex capital is a better prospect than the trip to Gillingham so I expect everyone will be happier with this draw.”
Regarding the Raiders’ chances, Scott added, “It is a long time since a full-strength London have played Chelmsford. In fact if you include John Connolly, Matt France and Liam Chong as being part of a full-strength Raiders then we have never played them at full strength.
“John and Matt have significantly improved our defence and Liam is an outstanding skater and puck carrier and his ability to transition from defenseman to forward have been greatly missed.”
The Raiders will also play Chelmsford on Saturday at the Lee Valley Ice Centre on the penultimate weekend of the regular season, and Scott believes the team will try to learn from the encounter, saying that “it is useful to have this weekend to try out a full team against Chelmsford and see what needs to be improved before the playoffs start.”