By Xanthe Boursier-Gazzard
The Bristol Honda Pitbulls faced a tough defeat at home last night after battling the Raiders to reach overtime, coming away from the game with a single point.
The team gained Bobby Ragan into their line-up however were without Christian Mohr, Luke Smital and new import Brennan Feasey who is currently awaiting international clearance to play.
The Raiders took their opportunity to light the lamp within the first few minutes after relieving the initial pressure that was created on netminder Brad Windebank, the puck moved from end to end as Tjay Anderson gained possession and swerved around Matt Smital to fire into the top corner. Following this the home side earnt a penalty shot which was taken by Nik Coric, he skated from centre ice and attempted to glide the puck past Windebank’s glove however was unsuccessful in doing so. Minutes later Bayley Harewood fired a shot unassisted from the right hand corner of the blueline that hit the back of the net getting the Pitbulls onto the board with less than two minutes of the first remaining. The Raiders didn’t take long to regain the lead however, as Adam Laishram planted a rebound from his own original effort past Smital ending the period 2-1.
Period two started off with the opposition retaining possession, their third goal was scored by Aaron Connolly and less than two minutes later Jake Sylvester pulled off a nice move before tucking the puck into the right corner making their fourth of the evening causing Jamie Elson to take a timeout. Juha Lindgren then took his chance and made the finish, a wonderful tip from a heavy Tanner Butler blast from the blue line. Despite this Connolly managed to score his second of the night not long after in contentious circumstances. One more goal came from the second period with just 36 seconds of play remaining and on the powerplay from Max Birbraer after he profited from a deflected Ed Bradley shot.
The final period looked hopeful for the Pitbulls as Elliot Lewis received Sam Smith’s pass and buried it into the net after an excellent skate cutting from the left wing, although Laishram was quick to score another and re-establish their two goal cushion. The home side put their all into the final five minutes trying to make something of every chance, their fifth goal was credited to Lindgren when Mason Lipsey’s shot bounced off his skate straight past Windebank, on further review Lindgren may have got away with a kicking motion. The last minute approached and the decision was made for Smital to leave the net, Nik Coric fired a shot into the goal area, although it went comfortably wide, the rebound off the boards fell to Sam Smith who pinched in and blasted it in from a tight angle to level the game.
Overtime was quickly underway, although the home team couldn’t get the result they wanted as Sylvester made the score 7-6 to the Raiders just over a minute in, with the Pitbulls failing to get any real puck possession in the three-on-three period.
Player of the Match for the away side went to Jake Sylvester who got the game-winning-goal for the Raiders and the home sides went to Sam Smith.
Sunday’s game in Romford was understandably and correctly postponed out of respect for the very upsetting death of Nottingham Panthers player Adam Johnson.