When the most physical team in the league come to play in MK, most are aware of what might happen, but the antics of London Raiders on Sunday almost turned the game with MK Thunder into a fiasco.
Fortunately Thunder didn’t take the bait and coolly went on to win the game 6-2 which infuriated the visitors even more.
A powerplay goal from Josh Nicklin got Thunder off to a good start in the seventh minute, with assists going to Jamie Randall and Jamie Line. Mid way through the period and Thunder were 2-0 up.
Piotr Poziomkowski gained possession deep in the Thunder zone and picked out Ryan Coffey up ice with a perfect pass that dissected the Raiders defence. Coffey then calmly slotted the puck past Chris Douglas in the Raiders goal. Shortly after scoring, Coffey was felled by an illegal elbow had to be taken to hospital with concussion.
For the short periods of the game when Raiders actually played hockey they looked decent and they did pull a goal back in the seventeenth minute through import Vaclav Drabek.
The second period descended into chaos as Raiders notched up the penalty minutes. Abusing officials really isn’t the best tactical plan but the visitors seemed intent on doing that as much as possible urged on by their visiting support. Raiders had three players game plus a member of their coaching staff ejected from the game during a period which saw them take 123 minutes in penalties.
Thunder stayed cool throughout and impressively had zero penalties in the period. The fact that Thunder scored another two goals in the period to make it 4-1 went almost unnoticed but an excellent goal from Tom Mboya and a second powerplay goal for Nicklin made the game safe for the Milton Keynes side.
Things settled down in the final period. With the worst of the Raiders protagonists out of the game they returned to playing hockey, but the end result was the same. Thunder were just better on the night and added another two goals, both from Nicklin to take his individual tally for the game to four.
With the score 6-1 it looked like Thunder would sit on that lead to the end, but Raiders got a late consolation goal to make it 6–2.
With Bracknell losing on Sunday, Thunder have the chance of taking fifth place in the league if they get at least a point from their final game next Sunday against Solent Devils in Gosport.
With the league just about done, it is confirmed that Thunder will play either Wightlink Raiders or Streatham Redskins in the quarterfinals of the playoffs which take place on Easter weekend. Thunder will be at home for the second leg on Sunday April 5.