National Ice Hockey League Division 1

Stars No Match For Rampant Raiders As Play-Off Hopes End

Match Report: Stars vs London Raiders, NIHL Play off quarter final 2nd leg

28th March 2017    Match

26th March 2017

The Stars were looking to bounce back from a 4-2 defeat in London against the London Raiders the night before; they would need to win Sunday’s match by at least 3 goals to advance to the play-off semi-finals. Unfortunately though, the night was to end in misery for the Stars, who found themselves unable to come anywhere near that.

The Stars started Mark Duffy in goal for the first period, and the Raiders were immediately aggressive, with the puck shooting towards the Stars’ net. A Josh Oliver pass to Jake Florey saw a good chance for the home team but Florey was unable to get near enough to the net. The Raiders had their own shot on Duffy in goal and then the Stars set up some shots, including chances from Ben Paynter, Brendan Baird, Joe Edwards and Hallam Wilson. An Alan Green shot rebounded to Paynter who had a good opportunity for a goal but this shot missed the net. The puck then ended up with the Raiders who had several attempts, Duffy having to dive on the puck a couple of times. Down the other end Green fell and slid into the Raiders’ net, pushing it off its moorings. Nine minutes into the period came the first penalty, Jake Pitchley in for holding as he knocked Wilson over on the ice. Now on a Powerplay the Stars were unable to take advantage of it, with the Raiders actually controlling the puck for a fair amount of it. Just after killing the penalty the Raiders scored their first goal of the night, Pitchley from Andrew Munroe. After the face-off Edwards for the Stars sent a shot towards Euan King in the Stars’ net; it bounced off King’s stick and shot straight up into the air. Controlling the puck once more, Alan Lack passed it to Slavomir Buda; his shot was followed by a couple more from the visitors. With five minutes left to play in the period Marek Nahlik collected a rebound and added the second goal for the Raiders, unassisted. Green for the Stars then took the puck to the other end but his shot bounced off King’s shin-pads. With less than three minutes to go Mike Whillock set up a beautiful shot for Matt Jordan towards the Raiders net, but Jordan missed the pass, much to the dismay of the home fans. Pitchley entered the sin bin for the second time with an interference penalty soon after, but once again the Stars were not able to capitalise on it. With less than 30 seconds left in the period Florey launched a shot towards King, the latter catching it in his hand. With 14 seconds left to go Nahlik found the back of the Stars’ net yet again, this time with an assist from Tom Davis. As the buzzer sounded for the end of the first period the Stars saw themselves 3-0 down, meaning they would need to score five goals just to equalise.

Tom Annetts replaced Duffy in the Stars’ goal for the second period; however this move was not to have the positive effect that the Stars clearly hoped for. The Raiders had the first shot; following a brief intermission while the referee went to get a new whistle, the visitors then had several more shots on goal, from the likes of Nahlik, Brandon Miles and Pitchley. Finally managing to get the puck, Josh Oliver took it around the back of the Raiders’ net but was unable to get close enough to score. Fighting started when Andy Cox of the Stars was knocked over by John Connolly of the Raiders, both players incurring penalties for their efforts (slashing for Cox and cross-checking for Connolly). With 12 ½ minutes to go in the period Annetts came out of the net and the Raiders took advantage, scoring their fourth goal of the night; Munroe from Buda. Less than a minute later it was followed by Nahlik’s hat-trick goal of the night, this one with an assist from Stewart Tait. As the visiting fans celebrated their annihilation of the home side, the Stars called a time-out. It seemed that there would be little the Stars could do at this point in the game but the time-out was followed by a number of shots on the Raiders’ net, including those from Green, Josh Oliver and Darren Elliott; unfortunately, none of them were successful. With just under eight minutes left in the period the Stars’ misery was compounded by yet another goal from the Raiders, Tait collecting a rebound that had caused Annetts to fall over, with assists from Sam Roberts and Thomas Beesley. A minute or so later it looked like there would be another goal when Annetts caught a shot and it rolled almost into the net, but no goal was awarded. With just over five minutes left Elliott incurred a cross-checking penalty for the Stars and the Raiders tried to add a Powerplay goal but the Stars managed to kill the penalty successfully, following it up with their own chances, most notably from Wilson. With 37 seconds before the buzzer Lack entered the penalty box for boarding. At the end of the period the score was 6-0 to the visitors in this game.

There was to be no way back for the Stars, who were clearly now just looking to score a goal in this match to have something for the fans to celebrate. For the first five minutes both sides traded chances, before Green had to sit out for a holding penalty, which was luckily killed without any further change to the scoreline. With 13 minutes left in the game coincidental slashing penalties were given out for both sides, Josh Oliver with a penalty for the Stars and for the Raiders it was Lack. With both sides once again taking turns to possess the puck Nahlik had an opportunity to make his tally four goals, but the attempt missed. With time running out for the Stars, the fans held their heads in their hands as the visitors scored their seventh of the night, this one coming from Pitchley again with assists from Julian Smith and Connolly. Edwards had a shot on King; then, the home fans finally had something to cheer about as the Stars scored their consolation goal with less than five minutes left in the game, and they embraced it, cheering as if their team had won the game. Dominic Hopkins was the hero, and assists came from Paynter and Green, a fitting end to Green’s career as he had announced he was to retire after this season. As the game wound down the Stars had a go at trying to add another goal, but as the buzzer went there was no further change to the score. It was to be a sad end to the season for the Stars, who would not advance in the playoffs this year.

Katie Kent

Final score Stars 1 Raiders 7; Stars 3 Raiders 11 on aggregate

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