The Solent Devils failed to settle in the penalty ridden stop-start match and seemed unable to settle in their only match of the weekend. They still however outshot their hosts 63-46 but came up against an in-form netminder, only managing to beat him once. The Devils spent virtually the whole of the second period on the powerplay, but simply couldn’t seem to get their powerplay units working on the night, even conceding a short-handed goal.The match started at a fast pace, with both teams having opportunities in the first few minutes. But the tone of the match was set in the first minute as the referee called his first of twenty four separate penalties in what wasn’t really a physical match. Ralfs Circemis came close whilst the Devils were short-handed, but his shot was tipped away by the London netminder. Chances came at both ends, with the Raiders looking to shoot from both long and short-range. Another good chance came for the Devils on the seven minute mark, as the team were yet again short-handed when defenceman Chris Beal broke free but was again denied by the Raiders netminder. The only goal of the period was scored by London, in the 14th minute whilst on the powerpay. In the final seconds Alex Cole’s blue line shot beat the netminder, but agonisingly just clipped the post and went wide.
A very scrappy second period saw the Devils have a number of 5 on 3 opportunities, and despite outshooting their visitors 27-13 were to lose the period 0-2. Frustratingly the first of these was conceded whilst the Devils were on the powerplay, as they were unable to respond to a London breakaway. Andre Magee, Drew Campbell and Alex Murray all came close but the luck seemed to be the Raiders this evening. Man of the Match Ben Lock had a shot from the blue line, but this went just wide in the closing minutes of the period.
Starting the final period 0-3 down the home team upped the pace, and yet again came close with powerplay opportunities in the opening minutes. Mitch Murray finally broke the Raiders’ shut-out in the 46th minute as he sneaked the puck in at the near post, as Jamie Fitzpatrick was pressurising in front of netminder. Drew Campbell almost pulled another back straight from the restart, but the puck went just wide. Continued pressure from Devils saw George Norcliffe get a breakaway, but he was denied yet again by the Raiders netminder. With just over 90 seconds remaining the Devils pulled their netminder in favour of an additional forward, but this risky strategy didn’t pay off as Raiders scored an empty net goal from their own end.
Solent Devils will look to regroup this week, and will be aiming to record their first win of the season next weekend as they visit Streatham on Saturday and welcome Bracknell on Sunday (7pm face-off).
by Simon Beal
Photo: Solent Devils import Drew Campbell - photo by Dave Chapman