ICE HOCKEY WIGHTLINK Raiders are sitting pretty at the top of the English National League Division 1 South after two excellent away wins — and some shock results elsewhere.
While Raiders defeated London Raiders 5-1, and Solent and Gosport Devils 8-1, the resurgent Streatham Redskins were defeating the Raiders’ rivals, Chelmsford Chieftains and Invicta Dynamos.
Those results, together with a retrospectively impressive draw against Streatham a fortnight ago, have put Raiders four points clear at the top of the table.
On Saturday, Raiders made their first trip to London and came away with a comfortable win. A goalless first period was ended with London opening the scoring on the powerplay at 30.45, but Raiders were undeterred and scored twice in the middle session, goals courtesy of Craig Tribe and player-coach Jeremy Corn-ish.
Two third-period goals from Alex Barker, one of them shorthanded, and a fifth from Corey Watkins, sealed the points.
London offered little in the way of resistance or fight, posting just 21 shots on netminder Matt Colclough.
On Sunday, Raiders had a short trip to Gosport and, despite the disruption of a few derby scuffles, again won with ease.
They scored twice in the opening minute, first through Barker and then through Steven Osman while on an early powerplay.
Matt Vizzari then got in on the scoring act at 13.14, before tempers flared and gloves were dropped. First, Tribe and former Raider Steve Gossett went toe to toe. Then, seconds later, Ben Lock scuffled with Kev Tanner. Cornish got involved in the scrap too, and was ejected from the game as a result.
Things settled down for the remainder of the game, allowing Raiders to enjoy some free-flowing hockey.
They netted twice more in the second period, through Simon Hobbis and Osman, and then in the third period they pulled away with a hat-trick goal for Osman, and strikes for Dan Pye and Watkins.
Solent and Gosport scored a consolation with three minutes left, but it was the Raiders’ day.
Cornish said afterwards on his online blog: "What a great weekend of hockey. We pulled off two fantastic wins and roll into the Christmas break in first place.
"I would like to thank the players for their effort and commitment so far this year and I’m excited to see what the second half will bring."
Cornish also thanked the fans, supporters’ club and back room staff for their support so far this season.
Their next game is not until January 4, when they have a repeat of last weekend’s games, travelling to London on Saturday, and Solent and Gosport on Sunday.