James Smith goes in for goal against Cardiff. Picture by Laura Holme.
WIGHTLINK Raiders top the NIHL Division 1 South after another three-point weekend.
On Saturday, the Islanders overwhelmed a frustrated Solent and Gosport team who offered little resistance to the Raiders’ attack, before hosting Cardiff and being held to a 3-3 draw on Sunday night.
The results mean Raiders are at the league summit with 37 points, one ahead of Chelmsford Chieftains, who have a game in hand.
Wightlink Raiders 8, Solent & Gosport Devils 1
Against bottom side Solent and Gosport, Raiders produced a consistent performance to take the points but, as in previous games with the Devils, there were fireworks.
Raiders raced into a two-goal lead through Richard Facey and Jiri Hanzal.
Unlike their last encounter at Ryde Arena, emotions were kept under wraps until two minutes before the end of the first period, when all hell broke loose after a slashing incident between Raiders’ Corey Watkins and Devils’ Mitchell Murray.
A row broke out between the two of them, which spread through both teams, with Raiders on the ice, and Devils opting to stay on their bench. And it was this tactic which seemed to save them as, from all the fighting, Devils somehow only came out of it with one roughing penalty — Murray was not penalised at all for his actions — and Raiders lost Watkins to a game penalty while four others received two minutes in the sin-bin.
It meant Raiders spent around five minutes of the second period with just three men on the ice. But such was their dominance, they still managed to score during this time; Dan Pye scoring with a slapshot just two minutes from the restart.
Then, three goals in as many minutes sealed the game for the hosts, with Robbie Brown’s goal quickly followed by one straight from the face-off by James Smith. Brown then netted his second to make it 6-0. In the final period, there was more to celebrate as Facey and Smith both bagged their second goals of the night, and although Solent grabbed a goal late on, it was the Raiders’ night.
Wightlink Raiders 3, Cardiff ENL Devils 3
Raiders faced a far tougher prospect the following night when Cardiff came to visit Ryde Arena.
In a game featuring no flashpoints like the night before, the Welsh side took a 1-0 first-period lead through Rupert Quiney, on the powerplay, before doubling their advantage just 30 seconds into the middle session, through Stephen Deacon.
Man of the match Facey made it 2-1 on the half-hour, with assists from Hanzal and Sam Waller, but his effort was quickly cancelled by Steven Osman.
Two goals in the final period, however, from Hanzal and Facey, earned Raiders — who out-shot Cardiff 47-17 — a vital league point.
Tomorrow (Saturday), Raiders host Streatham Redskins in the NIHL Cup, and have Sunday off. Face-off at Ryde Arena is 6pm.
• Pictures from our online gallery www.iwcpgallery.co.uk below.