After needing a shootout to separate the teams in the reverse fixture, both the Blackburn Buccaneers and the Riverside Raiders were expecting another close game last Sunday.
The game got underway and Riverside were quickly on the board with one of the most outrageous goals you’re ever likely to see. A shot from Jack Walker deflected off the skate of Greenhalgh, off the skate of Tierney and looped over Ciaran Chapman in the Buccs goal.
Despite chances for both teams, that would be the only goal of the opening period and the game headed into the second with all to play for. Some poor discipline from both teams, but in particular the Buccaneers, saw 26 penalty minutes dished out in the second period alone, meaning the special teams saw plenty of ice.
5 minutes into the period, Walker picked up his second of the game with assists from Jeff Chapman-Watson and Ben Donkin and then just 4 minutes later he completed his hat-trick, Mike Filek and James Kelly picking up the helpers.
The Buccs were afforded a life line shortly after. With the puck loose in the crease, the referees ruled that Donkin had covered the puck with his glove and awarded the visitors a penalty shot that was despatched by Michael Walsh.
The Raiders bounced back though and with Callum Greenhalgh serving a slashing penalty, Jordan Birtwistle found Matt Lennox in front of the goal who made no mistake in restoring the Raiders 3 goal cushion. The second period finished 4-1 Raiders.
Two minutes into the third, the puck popped out of a goal mouth scramble to Walsh who fired a slapshot past Rob Melvin to cut the deficit to 2 but any hope was short-lived as two goals in 30 seconds from Filek and Lennox put the Raiders firmly in control. A seventh goal from Bobby Samari all but wrapped up the game.
The Buccaneers weren’t done on the scoresheet though and their final goal came from the most unlikely of sources. After a late change in lineup, Buccs backup netminder for the game, Glen Rattray, donned some spare player kit and took his place on the third line wing. A stretch pass from Greenhalgh found Rattray on the attacking blue and he rifled a wrist shot past Melvin for his first competitive goal in his first competitive game as an outskater at the ripe age of %#.
The Raiders had the last word though as Birtwistle got his name on the board with the help of Chapman-Watson and Lennox.
It was a disappointing result for the Buccaneers as they squandered the chance to wrap up a playoff spot but every credit to the Raiders who played a strong game and took their chances well. Rob Melvin deservedly picked up MVP for the Raiders whilst Walsh got the accolade for the Buccs.
Filek, Samari, Birtwistle 1+1
Chapman-Watson, Kelly 0+2
Beesley, Calderbank, Watson 2mins