Solent Sweep Moves Raiders Up Table

Don McDermott reports as the London Raiders achieve a four-point weekend with two wins against the lowly Solent Devils.

Slovakian international Slavomir Buda picked up three goals across the weekend and young Thomas Beesley scored a brace in the first matchup as the Raiders returned to action after the holiday break.

Second half surge

On Saturday, the Raiders were the home side, welcoming Solent to the Lee Valley Ice Centre. Buda, who signed with London during the offseason, quickly opened the scoring with a goal in the second minute.

But after that both sides stayed off the scoreboard until midway through the second period when Solent found an equalizer. Buda was sent to the penalty box for boarding and Alex Murray took advantage on the powerplay for the Devils.

Buda soon made up for his error, putting the Raiders back in the lead only a minute later, assisted by Matt France and Stewart Tait.

Beesley scored his first goal of the evening in the 35th minute and the Raiders were back in control of the match, going into the final period with a 3-1 lead.

Beesley padded London’s scoreline with just under 10 minutes left to play, and Solent’s late goal in the 55th minute, courtesy of Aidan Doughty, mattered little.

And the Raiders weren’t quite finished. A Solent hooking penalty led to a powerplay opportunity, which was converted by Jake Pitchley with just over a minute remaining to secure a dominant 5-2 win for London.

Slovakian double

On Sunday, the Raiders travelled to the Solent and Gosport Ice Arena for the away fixture, and produced another stellar performance.

Netminder Euan King, who has taken over goalkeeping duties this season for Michael Gray, stopped all 30 shots he faced to secure a clean sheet.

London’s forwards didn’t let their goalie and defencemen down, as the two Slovakians, Buda and Marek Nahlik – last season’s leading goalscorer for the Raiders – each found the back of the net.

Buda was first on the scoresheet in the 29th minute, with Pitchley notching an assist. Pitchley got back in the action again in the 49th minute, joining up with Alan Lack to assist on Nahlik’s team-leading 24th goal of the season.

The final buzzer sent the Raiders back home, having pillaged four points from Solent over the weekend. Third-placed Streatham Redhawks did not play, so London take over third position, two points clear of Streatham. The Redhawks do have two games in hand.

Next weekend

The Raiders welcome table-toppers Chelmsford Chieftains to Lee Valley, with face-off scheduled for 5:30 on Saturday, as London will look to cut into Chelmsford’s 10-point lead over them in the table.

Then on Sunday, rock-bottom Bracknell Hornets welcome the Raiders as the Hornets look for just their third win of the season.