MK THUNDER achieved a fantastic cup giant killing on Sunday when they beat one of the National League’s biggest sides, Wightlink Raiders.
The 4-3 Thunderdome victory saw a morale boosting performance from the city team – one which they will be looking to spur them on in their league campaign as they enter the final two months of the regular season one of the foot of the table.
Both teams were missing players through injury for the big South Cup Group A clash, with Dave Fairhurst’s Thunder severely depleted in defence with three of their seven defencemen out. But they rallied to their defensive task, while hitting Raiders hard on the break with devastating effect.
The visitors took the lead midway through a tight opening period, but Thunder held strong and were only behind by the single goal at the first buzzer.
A bright start to the second period gave Thunder an early chance to draw level – a Greg Randall pass across the Raiders goal finding Harrison Goode with time to slap shot the puck high past the Raiders stopper.
Raiders hit back just two minutes later to regain the lead as both teams traded chances in a real cup tie battle. But the home team’s powerplay unit eventually delivered the goods at the fourth attempt as Dwayne Newman combined with Jamie Randal to force home Jake Floreys’ shot from the blue line three minutes before the close of the middle session.
With the score at 2-2 going into the final period, it was Raiders who once again took the lead. But having fought so well, Thunder were not about to let the result slip away from them.
Their efforts were rewarded with seven minutes to play – Nidal Phillips firing home to make it 3-3 and set up a tense final few minutes.
Both teams had chances to win the game, but Jordan Hedley was strong in Thunder’s goal, allowing the home side to go down the other end where Max Petruks scored the decisive goal with only one minute left to play.
Thunder called a timeout to settle down after the excitement, and were able to see out the remaining seconds to secure a hugely impressive victory which leaves them in third position in their five-team group. Raiders remain second, behind leaders Chelmsford.