Thunder got their new year off to a winning start on Saturday, with a 3-2 win over London Raiders in Lee Valley.
Thunder started brightly and looked sharp in the opening period as they pinned Raiders back in their own zone.
Danish forward Mathias Rugholm opened the scoring after just 58 seconds as he latched onto a pass from Harrison Goode and slotted the puck past James Tanner in the Raiders goal.
The only criticism that could be made of Thunder throughout this game was the lack of shooting. When the opportunities came, the forwards always seemed to look for the extra pass or the perfect play rather than getting shots on Tanner and maximising on the rebounds.
Thunder should have been more than a goal up by the end of the first period and this carried on into the second, eventually allowing Raiders to level the score even if it was an illegal goal. Midway through the period Damien King saved the initial shot from Raiders’ Tom Davies but Davis then kicked the rebound into the back of the net.
Rather than washing the goal out the referees allowed it to stand and Raiders were back in the game. The home fans celebrations were short lived however as, just before the period ended, man of the match Harrison Goode picked up the pass from Edwards Knaggs and let the early shot go. The fierce slapshot found the top corner of Raiders goal and put Thunder 2-1 up.
Raiders went all out in the final period as Thunder defended their narrow lead. Defensively Thunder looked secure as they coped well with the Raiders attack, anything that got through was dealt with by King in goal. It was beginning to look like the game would stay at 2-1 until, four minutes from the final buzzer, Jamie Line made it 3-1. It was a smart counter attacking move started by Tom Castle and involving Piotr Poziomkowski before Line deaked the Raiders goalie and calmly put the puck in the net.
Raiders pulled their goalie with thirty seconds to go and put the extra skater on, a move that immediately paid off for them as Steve Deacon scored with 7 seconds left on the clock to make it 3-2.
Thunder killed the final seconds after the restart to take the narrow win, probably tougher than it should have been but another two points.