Everyone Active Raiders claimed their first win of the 2018/19 season with success in their home National League opener on Sunday.
A one-goal margin does not tell the full story, as Raiders were 3-0 up and coasting with seven minutes left.
But Streatham scored two late goals to make it more of a nervy finale than should have been the case.
Juraj Huska had the first shot on goal for the hosts, who were missing Ollie Baldock from their line-up after Saturday’s 6-4 loss in Bracknell, but Thomas Soar was then presented with a chance at the other end, which he could not take.
Mason Webster and Leigh Jamieson were binned with barely a minute gone after clashing by the Raiders net, with Blaho Novak then called for interference on the next shift to hand the visitors the first power play of the night.
But Michael Gray made a smart glove save to thwart Michael Farn’s blue line blast and Raiders opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Webster touched the puck inside from the right boards in his own zone and Novak sped away, using teammate Filip Sedivy as a decoy and beating Damien King with a neat backhand finish into the roof of the net.
Streatham’s Josh Condren was next to fall foul of referee Rick Belfitt, for a clear trip on JJ Pitchley in mid-ice, but the hosts could not capitalise on a largely poor power play, then lost Pitchley for a retaliatory slash.
Raiders survived the shorthanded spell, with new import Sedivy doing some good work, but then lost Webster for the final two minutes of the opening period for a hit on Condren along the boards, which was deemed a roughing minor.
Gray pouched an attempt from Soar after some patient set-up play by Streatham, though, as the hosts held on to their slender lead into the first break.
Raiders had a good chance to double their lead early in the middle session when captain Aaron Connolly blocked a shot on the left and broke up ice, but Huska’s far-post shot was saved by the pads of King.
It was a brief reprieve for the visitors, though, as Liam Chong – having impressed in the opening session – skated out from behind King’s net and saw a backhand shot squeeze inside the near post.
Gray threw out his blocker hand to deny Alex Roberts a quick reply, before Sedivy, Novak and Webster worked the puck on the end boards and Dan Scott eventually saw a shot from the point gathered up by King.
The Streatham goalie held on to a blast from John Connolly, while Rupert Quiney’s effort was deflected over Gray’s net and Adam Carr saw his follow-up trapped under the Raiders goalie’s pads.
Farn tipped Jamieson’s centre just over the crossbar, before Raiders defenceman Sean Barry skated off clutching his right arm after a hard but fair enough hit in the corner from Scott Bailey.
Gray won a battle of wills with Jamieson as he skated in from the left but ran out of ice, with Soar’s follow-up attempt smothered by the full-length goalie.
But Streatham went back on the power play when Matt Turner – working the third forward line with Pitchley, Sylvester and Brandon Ayliffe in rotation – was called for holding Jamieson.
Gray denied Ryan Webb as he looked to pounce on a loose puck, then held on to Farn’s angled drive from the right side, but Raiders then lost Scott on an interference minor and saw Turner return from the penalty box on a breakaway, but lose control of the puck at the vital moment.
Farn’s blast from the left point was plucked out of the air by a focused Gray, with Carr and Roberts also thwarted as chances continued to come.
And Raiders went close to a third after returning to full strength as Chong passed from behind the net to Novak, who saw King react in time to block.
Novak tested King’s glove hand after a Webster set-up, but Raiders moved 3-0 up on the same shift as Webster helped the puck goalwards and Sedivy got a tip on it to push it into the net.
Raiders applied some good concerted pressure in the early part of the final stanza, with Ayliffe denied from the side of the net, before James Warman was called for tripping.
King denied Novak with a reflex pad save in close, when John Connolly’s slapshot dropped in the crease during the early part of the power play, while Sedivy was thwarted on a half chance once the teams were back at even strength.
And the gloves came off from the resulting face-off as Webster tussled with the experienced Jamieson, who used his bigger frame to good effect for the takedown.
Both players picked up roughing double minors, but the Raiders forward had to be helped back to the dressing room during a subsequent stoppage in play with what apppeared to be an ankle injury.
King made two sharp saves on Aaron Connolly, while Gray kicked out Ben Russell’s slapshot through traffic, then used his stick to knock aside Soar’s backhand attempt from the left side and threw up a glove to field a wristshot.
But the Raiders goalie was finally beaten with less than seven minutes to go when Carr seized on a loose puck at the top of the slot and sent a wristshot over his right pad and inside the post.
And the hosts were left defending a 5-on-3 for two full minutes when John Connolly and Chong were both called for holding on the same play, giving Streatham a ray of hope with 5.25 left.
That hope grew further when Gray was called for delaying the game after diving to grab his stick, having dropped it, and kicking his net off its moorings.
Gray thwarted Soar with two fine saves before the Connolly and Chong penalties expired, but Raiders remained shorthanded for another two minutes.
And although they survived that, Gray was beaten for a second time when Soar tapped in from close range with 62 seconds left on the clock after King had been withdrawn for an extra skater.
It proved only a consolation for the visitors, as Raiders held on to their now slender lead to claim their first win of the new season.
Courtesy of the Romford Recorder