Spring Cup: Tigers stunned by late Raiders strike

Raiders came from 3-0 behind to snatch an overtime win against Telford Tigers (PHOTO: John Scott)

SATURDAY ROUND-UP

Raiders 6 Telford Tigers 5 (After Overtime)

Ben Solder’s overtime winner completed a dramatic comeback win for Raiders in their final home game of the Spring Cup to stun Telford Tigers.

It was a great turnaround for Sean Easton’s side after coming from 3-0 down in the second period to pick up their third win of the tournament to keep them above Bees in the standings.

Despite the loss, Telford picked up a point and confirmed second place, but it was a fifth defeat in their last six which will disappoint their coach Tom Watkins, especially after having the lead they did.

But the night belonged to a spirited Raiders team, who found themselves down two after four minutes through Robert Lachowicz and Scott McKenzie.

Ross Venus added a third, but Ashley Jackson found the net for the home team a minute later to get them on the board.  

Solder added Raiders’ second got them to within one, but they were still chasing the game when Jason Silverthorn made it 4-2 after two sessions.

Glenn Billing pulled the home side closer again with six minutes to go and when Finley Howells added a fifth for Telford, they perhaps thought they were home and hosed.

Raiders didn’t read the script as Juraj Huska found the net, followed by Harry Gulliver, who equalised in the final minute to set up a nail-biting finale as the game went into overtime.

It was there Solder popped up with the winner, assisted by Gulliver for his fourth point of the game to leave the Tigers stunned, ending their campaign in heartache.

Swindon Wildcats 9 Bees 3

Four point games for Jordan Kelsall and Tomasz Malasinski gave Swindon Wildcats a boost as they look to nab second place from Telford Tigers.

It was a perfect way to round off their home campaign, crushing the Bees as Wildcats surged to a 9-3 victory as they look to finish strongly.

Truth is, after the opening three minutes, Swindon were already three up without reply as Kelsall struck twice, either side of one from Benjamin Nethersall to put in a great position.

Another two – courtesy of Reed Sayers and Aaron Nell – pretty much had the game out of sight with the first period not even over yet.

Ivan Antonov pulled one back for the Bees early in the second, but three powerplay goals from the hosts made the scoreline much more one-sided as Nell, with his second, Matthew Myers and Malasinski all took advantage of their opposition’s indiscipline.

Sayers’ second made it 9-1 with just over ten minutes to go as the third period became a routine exercise for Swindon.

Bees managed to get two markers late on as Josh Smith and Lewis Hook made the scoreline a tad more respectable, but the fact is a disastrous first session handed the game to the Wildcats in the end.

Bees and Raiders are set for a final showdown to determine who finishes bottom of the Spring Cup standings (PHOTO: Bees)

SUNDAY PREVIEWS

Bees vs Raiders (2pm) (Click for streaming information)

They’ll have barely had time to celebrate their last gasp win on Saturday, but Raiders are thrown straight back in action when they take on Bees in a battle to avoid the bottom.

It’s the only game of the weekend where there’s arguably something to play for, but Sean Easton’s men taking two points from Telford has heavily weighted that basement battle in the Romford side’s favour.

The way things are looking, if Bees get what would be a big victory, it would take them above Raiders in the standings based on head to head record.

It could be a fascinating contest between the sides and the one thing either of them don’t want is for their entire seven-week campaign to end rock bottom of the final standings.

The two previous meetings thus far have yielded victories for the visiting team, so on that basis, Raiders have the edge.  With two wins in their last three, they’re certainly favourites for it.

Bees will be keen to bounce back from their heavy 9-3 loss at the hands of Swindon Wildcats so a win here would be badly needed, but a great final twist on the final day.

It promises to be an interesting if not fascinating last day for the two teams that have been bereft of any real form in this tournament.

It may appear like a dead rubber on the face of it, but both sets of players and coaches will make sure it will be nothing like that.

Sheffield Steeldogs and Swindon Wildcats started the Spring Cup, now they’ll finish it (PHOTO: Kat Medcroft)

Sheffield Steeldogs vs Swindon Wildcats (5pm) (Click for streaming information)

So this is it.  After seven weeks of action, goals galore and just the general joyful sight of ice hockey being played again, Sheffield Steeldogs and Swindon Wildcats, who played in the opening weekend, end the Spring Cup.

A lot has happened in the weeks in between, but you can’t doubt the class or manner of how the Steeldogs have dominated the campaign, which will lead to them being handed the trophy at Ice Sheffield after this game.

There’s no doubting for a minute just how good they’ve been and while players from both teams will go straight to the Elite Series, it’s certainly been a more than useful exercise.

Steeldogs won the opening two games and have remained unbeaten all the way through.  The big question is, will they be able to finish the competition with the victory that will give them a perfect record?

Swindon are certainly capable of causing an upset, but their own indifferent form throughout the competition will lead many to think the night will belong to the Steeldogs again.

The opening two games saw Sheffield win 5-4 then 4-2 to set the tone for the competition ahead, but Swindon can look back at what might have been.

Could a victory in that opening weekend to share the spoils have led to the possibility of them getting closer to the top?

We’ll never know, but on the back of that thumping 9-3 home win over Bees, they certainly travel to Yorkshire in great frame of mind as they recovered from last week’s shock loss to Raiders.

It’s a last throw of the dice for Aaron Nell’s men, but he’ll have learned much from this group as he starts a period of reflection on what he’s seen from the last few weeks.

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