WIGHTLINK Raiders maintained their position at the top of National Ice Hockey League South with a solid victories over Cardiff Devils and the strengthened Bracknell Hornets this weekend.
Wightlink Raiders 6, Cardiff ENL Devils 4
Against Cardiff, the hosts made a poor start when the Devils took a third-minute lead. However, Raiders recovered well and goals from Steve Gossett, and a brace from import Jiri Hanzal, certainly settled the nerves.
In a penalty-laden second period, where Nick Compton was binned for six minutes for roughing and Gossett ejected for the same infraction, Cardiff pulled level, with a shorthanded goal from Jamie Newton and an equaliser from Jordan Powell.
However, a Robbie Brown goal at 36.39, assisted by Richard Facey and player-coach Jeremy Cornish, gave Raiders a narrow advantage going into the final session.
Once again, Cardiff retaliated and a goal 12 minutes from time kept things tense to the last, until Raiders gained the points they needed with two strikes in the final three minutes. The first, on the powerplay, was netted by Corey Watkins from Craig Tribe, while man of the match Hanzal netted the sixth, and his third, to complete victory.
Bracknell Hornets 1, Wightlink Raiders 2
In a low-scoring match, Raiders edged the Hornets to remain unbeaten.
The Hornets took the lead in the 13th minute and it took until the halfway point of the match for Raiders to equalise, Cornish getting the goal.
The winner came at 44.30, through Facey. Both netminders, Raiders’ Matt Colclough and Hornets’ Chris Douglas, were on top form throughout the night with some top saves.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Raiders host Slough NIHL Jets — from the same league as Wightlink Tigers — in their first game of the NIHL Cup, in Group 1 of the competition. Face off at Ryde Arena is 6pm.
On Sunday, they return to league action and will look to maintain their unbeaten record at Invicta Dynamos.