On Sunday, the Bees took the trip up the Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre to take on the Raiders IHC for a critical game. The Bees found themselves still short benched with Josh Kelly, James Galazzi, Dominik Gabaj, Zaine McKenzie, Adam Goss, Adam Rosbottom, Joe Baird and Curtis Warburton not icing. However the Bees had an addition to the roster with Oli Endicott icing in the Black, White and Gold.
Dominik Gabaj, Alan Lack and Juha Lindgren started the game with a positive by winning the opening face off. Both teams came out strong for the opening period, with Jake Sylvester and JJ Pitchley getting some early chances for the Raiders. With only 2:24 played in the first period, the Bees took an early lead with a goal scored by Dominik Gabaj assisted by Will Stead and Stuart Mogg. After the Bees goal, Raiders automatically retaliated to try and produce a goal however they were denied by Dan Weller-Evans. Erik Piatak proved himself to be a key player during the period, constantly applying pressure on the Bees to create more chances for the Raiders. Towards the end of the period we saw some great plays from the Bees with Josh Martin providing opportunities for the Bees to increase their one goal lead. The first period ended with the Raiders 0-1 Bees.
The opening of the second period fell to Josh Martin, Dominik Gabaj and Juha Lindgren, with the Raiders coming away with the face off win. Shortly into the second, Michael Grey blocked a beautiful shot from Dominik Gabaj, denying the Bess the opportunity to extend their 1-0 lead. Tommy Huggett got the puck to the back of the Bees goal at 25:17 to tie the game at 1-1 with the assists credited to Sean Barry and Jake Sylvester. Callum Burnett received a 2 minute Interference penalty at 28:49 which saw a 2 on 1 short-handed chance for the Raiders but an amazing save by Dan Weller-Evans stopped them from taking the lead. Not long after, we saw a great opportunity for Oli Endicott with a slap shot towards the net, which was, however, stopped by the Raiders. Brandon Ayliffe broke through the barrier of Bees players to create another chance for the Raiders but an outstanding poke check from Stuart Mogg stopped Ayliffe from getting any closer to the goal. At 33:00, Harvey Briggs, assisted by Tommy Huggett, put the puck in the back of the net to break the tie and make it a 2-1 game in favour of the Raiders. After the Raiders second goal, the Bees started to create more chances but at 38:31, Dan Scott also managed to get the puck past the Bees and extended the home team’s lead to 3-1, with the assists going to Erik Piatak and Brandon Ayliffe. This saw out the period.
Josh Smith, Stuart Mogg and Josh Martin took the opening face off for the third and final period and came away with the puck, which led to an early power play goal for the Bees at 41:18 coming from Edward Bradley assisted by Josh Smith and Juha Lindgren, closing the scoreline to 3-2. Not long after, the Raiders had some good chances but some great saves from Dan Weller-Evans saw nothing come of these opportunities. Jake Sylvester proved himself to yet again be an influential player for the Raiders in the last 20 minutes of regulation time, which was met by the Bees with Josh Martin constantly trying to create plays in an attempt to close the one goal gap. At 53:18, Callum Burnett and Alan Lack received 2 minute minor penalties for interference and roughing respectively, making it 4 on 4. As the game started to get towards the end it turned quite physical but JJ Pitchley had some good opportunities to try to add to the Raiders total. Then at 57:43, Jake Sylvester ,after many attempts throughout the night, got past Dan Weller-Evans to make the game 4-2 with the assists going to Callum Wells and Erik Piatak. With 44 seconds remaining in the third period, the Bees decided to pull Dan Weller-Evans and Raiders took advantage of this opportunity. Brandon Ayliffe scored an empty net goal at 59:19, assisted by Erik Piatak and Dan Scott, bringing the period to a close. The game finished with the final score standing at Raiders 5-2 Bees.
Dan Weller-Evans picked up man of the match for the Bees with Tommy Huggett picking up for the Raiders.
I had the chance to talk to Dan Weller-Evans to see his views on the game:
“All weekend we found ourselves short benched and missing key players, after a tough game against Sheffield that was always going to be catch up with us on the Sunday. Raiders came at us hard in the first period but we coped well and managed to go in with a 1-0 lead. The second period we started to tired and we got caught chasing in our own end. A few lapses in concentration and in this league you will be punished which we were. After the break going into the 3rd we started well getting a powerplay goal to bring it to 3-2 but again after 100 minutes of hockey with a short bench it was always going to be a tough ask and I think the boys showed incredible fight and determination and we gave it everything we had until the last buzzer. The weekend’s results weren’t what we wanted but hopefully we should have a few key players back next weekend and will be looking to get back on a winning run and get into our best form to cement our playoff place.”