The Wightlink Raiders are today celebrating as two solid performances over the weekend saw them crowned the South East Trophy Champions!
The Raiders secured their place in the finals back in October fending off both Romford and Invicta for a chance to battle with Chelmsford for the seasons first piece of silverware.
The two leg final saw the in-form Chelmsford Cheiftains roll into Ryde on Saturday night for a fast paced game that had fans on the edge of their seats throughout.
The first period saw plenty of action at both ends as the game started with explosive speed and both teams looking to show off their impressive skills, despite which the period drew to a close scoreless thanks in no small way to the superstar netminding on show at both ends of the rink.
To Raiders fans dismay it was the Chieftains that drew first blood with a powerplay goal from imposing Tibor Schneider early in the second period. The Raiders now somewhat rattled seemed shaky through out the middle period, compounded by a second Chelmsford goal at 33.58 as Danny Hammond beat Colclough in the Raiders net to give the Chieftains a commanding 2 goal lead. A much needed boost for the home team came with little over a minute remaining in the period as Richard Facey capitalised on a pretty feed from Larter and Hanzal to leave the score 1-2 at the whistle.
Down but not defeated the Raiders regrouped during the second interval, and a few friendly words from coach Cornish seemed to do the trick as the Raiders shot out of the blocks with Jiri Hanzal scoring their second of the night just 25 seconds into the third period to bring the score even.
A tripping penalty on Chieftains Michael Ranby gave the home team the opportunity they were searching for as Richard Facey bagged his second of the night to give the Raiders the lead for the first time in the game. Celebrations however short-lived as Chelmsford pulled the game even once again through a Danny Hammond goal at 42.54.
It was all about the Raiders from this point onwards, as the knew they needed a lead heading into the game in Essex the following night. Eventual Man of the Match Kieran Annis produced just what fans ordered with a quick strike at 46.05 to once again pull out a lead for the home side. The goal boosted the Raiders who continued to battle hard, getting their reward just over six minutes later as the relentless Alex Murray decided he wanted a piece of the action netting the final goal of the night at 52.37, the Raiders running out with a 5-3 victory.
Heading to Chelmsford on Sunday the Raiders confident they had done everything they could the previous night but knowing a tough game lie ahead having been previously burned on the Chieftains home ice.
The game was a real back and forth affair with power continuously shifting form one team to the other. The Raiders made a quick and confident start with a Corey Watkins goal at 5.04 assisted by Murray and Cornish which would end up being the only goal to be scored in both the first and second periods.
The third period started with disappointment for the Raiders as the Chieftains opened their account at 45.27 to bring the score even at one a piece. A Damon Larter goal within the last ten minutes of play soon shook off any lull in the Raiders confidence as the glint of silverware came into sight.
A bout of fisticuffs served to remind spectators the passion and willingness to win from both teams, with the four man official system handing out numerous penalties to both teams including a 2+2 to Raiders Dan Pye for roughing but with a 2+2+10+10 to the Chieftains Alex Green, 2 for roughing for Sincovic and a 10 minute misconduct for Gary Clarke Chelmsford seemed to come out of the affair considerable worse off.
The game was not done however, as the Chelmsford Chieftains bagged themselves a late consolation goal at 58.37 to see the clock run down with a 2 all draw and the Raiders take the trophy with a 7-5 aggregate win!
The result sees the Raiders lift the first piece of silverware of the season, and gives the team a real boost as they continue their hunt for further league and cup glory.
A spokesperson for the Raiders is delighted with the win…
“We have said from the start we wanted to chase all silverware on offer this season and to lift the first piece available is a real achievement for the team!”
“Jeremy and the boys have been working really hard all season and credit must go to them for their ability to perform when the going gets tough.”
“Lets make sure we give the guys a big reception when they return to home ice on Saturday!”
The Raiders continue their league campaign on Saturday as the Bracknell Hornets swarm to Ryde Arena for a 6pm face off. The Raiders currently sit in third place in the league just 3 points adrift from the Romford Raiders in the top spot and with games in hand over the second placed Chelmsford Chieftains.