Ice Hockey Preview
11:51 21 April 2012
Raiders seek historic treble
ENL Division 1 Play-off final
Chelmsford Chieftains v Romford Raiders
Romford Raiders v Chelmsford Chieftains
And so it all comes down to two games this weekend.
Danny Marshall’s Raiders have already secured the South East Trophy and ENL Division One title this season and seek to complete an historic treble in the play-offs.
But fierce rivals Chelmsford will be aiming to end their campaign with the big one, after a 5-3 aggregate win in the Essex Cup.
Romford finished strongly in both legs of their semi-final against Invicta to earn their place in the season’s finale.
Shaun Yardley’s goal, with only four seconds left, sealed a 6-4 win in Gillingham last Saturday.
But the overall gap was down to one as Dynamos edged into a 3-2 lead after two periods at Rom Valley Way the following night.
Juraj Huska restored Romford’s two-goal aggregate cushion within seconds of the restart, though, and struck again after AJ Smith’s go-ahead goal.
Young defenceman Billy Phillips then netted the final two goals of the night to complete a stunning hat-trick and clinch a 7-3 victory.
Chelmsford’s passage to the final was slightly more straightforward.
Rivals Isle of Wight were without the division’s player of the year in Joe Rand, who had returned to Canada, and could not deny Chieftains a 4-1 win at Ryde.
A 5-3 triumph back at the Riverside followed for Gary Clarke’s men, but they are behind by that margin in the season’s head-to-head with Romford.
Raiders won the first league meeting, 5-4 at Rom Valley Way, then saw their 14-game winning start to the campaign end in a 4-2 loss in the return meeting.
A come-from-behind, silverware-clinching 7-5 victory in the South East Trophy was followed by a 5-2 Essex Cup loss before Christmas.
But Raiders began 2012 with an 8-5 Trophy win at home, only to lose 4-1 when the sides met in the league for a third time.
Marshall’s men bounced back to record a vital 5-2 win at the Riverside in their final league clash, on the way to being crowned regular season champions, but a 1-0 win in the Essex Cup return, where Glen Jackson registered the first Essex derby shutout in over 100 matches, was not enough to deny their rivals that particular honour.
Raiders just about hold the edge in goals scored in those eight matches at 31-29 and go into the weekend with momentum, on the back of an eight-game winning run.
But it is two months since these sides met and Chelmsford, forced to settle for the runners-up spot in the league, will be desperate to repeat their play-off success of last season.
An injury-hit Romford were beaten 6-5 on aggregate in the semi-finals a year ago, before Chieftains saw off the league champions Isle of Wight to end their campaign on a high.
Raiders will be hoping that particular piece of history does not repeat itself as they look to succeed the 2000/01 squad, who beat Chelmsford to win the EPL play-off crown.
Marshall, Grant Taylor and Tyrone Miller survive from that Raiders line-up and, in their own ways, will be key men once again.
ENL Division 2
Romford Fury v Isle of Wight Tigers
Fury end their campaign with a rearranged fixture at Rom Valley Way today.
The original meeting was postponed due to licensing issues at the rink and Fury have seen hopes of a top-four finish shattered since.
They have lost three of their last four matches, against Oxford (twice) and Chelmsford last weekend, and look set to end the campaign in sixth place.
All those losses were by a single goal, though, and suggest Romford are very close to being among the leading sides in this division.
For any hockey fans not making the short trip up the A12 to watch Raiders in the first leg of their play-off final against Chelmsford, this might represent a decent alternative.
Admission is only £4 for adults and £2.50 concessions.