Coach Jeremy Cornish lost his cool against Romford. Picture by Nicky Craft.
ICE HOCKEY A DISAPPOINTING away performance meant the Raiders Cup went to Romford for the first time in its three-year history this weekend.
The two-leg competition, played between Wightlink Raiders and their namesakes from Essex has, until now, been dominated by the Islanders.
But last weekend, following a 5-5 draw at home on Saturday, Wightlink lost 7-2 at Rom Valley Way.
Both games were typically fiery, with scraps and penalties aplenty for both sides.
On Saturday, and without Robbie Brown, Wightlink quickly went 2-0 down, when Matthew Turner and Juraj Huska netted in quick succession.
But Wightlink pulled one back through Nathan Taylor, and then equalised through player-coach Jeremy Cornish before the break.
It was in the second period when the controversy began, when Steve Gosset was penalised for a high stick on Huska, who left the ice before returning to show a cut on his face, which meant Gosset’s original penalty of two minutes was upgraded to a game.
This caused plenty of tension between the sides, although the goals were still flying in, as Husks’s early effort was cancelled out by Alex Murray, before Craig Tribe gave Wightlink the lead.
In the third period, the tensions which had been bubbling since the Huska and Gosset incident spilled over, when Huska appeared to slash Murray badly and before the officials could react, Huska and Murray went toe-to-toe and Cornish let fly on several of the Romford players, earning himself a match penalty.
From the powerplay, Romford pulled level, and then took the lead with 49 seconds left, through Huska.
But it was Wightlink who would have the last word when Richard Facey netted with 17 seconds on the clock.
Returning to Romford the next day there was all to play for, and Wightlink made a great start, leading the end of a penalty-ridden first period 2-1 thanks to strikes from Taylor and Jiri Hanzal.
More and more penalties were dished out in the second period as the officials tried to control two clearly wound-up sides, and things were made worse for Wightlink when Hanzal was forced out of the game with an ankle injury.
Romford used their home advantage to end the second period 6-2 up, and scored once more in the final session to take the cup.
Off the ice, the club confirmed this week that youngster Conor Pollard has left the club to take up a work opportunity in his home town of Peterborough. The 19 year old will now play for Peterborough Islanders in NIHL North.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Wightlink host Milton Keynes Thunder at Ryde Arena, face of 6pm, before travelling to Invicta Dynamos for a South East Trophy match.