Streatham Redskins made it six home league wins in a row with a hard fought 7-5 win over Solent & Gosport Devils in Brixton.
The home side had to bounce back immediately from a heavy 14-3 cup loss in Chelmsford the night before and were boosted by star import Jakub Klima passing a late fitness test prior to the game.
After suffering a shock defeat to the Devils down on the South Coast last month, Streatham were determined to seek revenge on the bottom placed team. The evening began as it was to continue as Streatham’s Russ Stevens was given an early charging penalty for a big hit on a Devils defenceman in the corner.
The Devils powerplay failed to test Will Sanderson in the Streatham goal and Streatham killed it off. Streatham then appeared to score an opener as Joe Johnston finished a good pass from the corner, but then as the two teams prepared to face off in centre ice, the two officials consulted each other and decided that in the build-up, an icing should have been called (but wasn’t blown) and then promptly disallowed the goal to the ire of the home side.
Streatham continued to pressure from the restart but with six minutes gone the visitors took the lead. Mitchell Murray played the puck across to former Redskins player Kent Johnson and he skated across the goal under pressure before firing the puck under Sanderson.
Streatham immediately exerted more pressure on the Devils goal but could seem to find no way past Aaron Taylor who was having an excellent start in goal. Klima saw two of his shots denied by the Solent stopper and then Stevens misfired the puck in the slot with the goal at his mercy. Lively Redskins forward Joe Allen required medical attention for a split lip after his big mid ice hit on Johnson saw his face catch on the Solent forwards’ face cage.
Allen did return to play but with a face cage on himself to try and protect the nasty looking wound held together by tape.
After failing to make a breakthrough in the first despite plenty of possession Streatham started the second with renewed vigour but found themselves shorthanded again. This time it was Hopkins who was called for a big hit on the boards as the officials endeared themselves to the home crowd once more. Seemingly out of luck for most of the game, Streatham got a large slice of it on the powerplay.
With Michal Oravec putting the Devils defence under pressure behind the net, a failed clearance rebounded off the backside of another Solent player and bounced into the net past a stunned Taylor. Two minutes later, and once again shorthanded, Streatham took the lead as Klima teed up Dom Hopkins and the big blue liner fired into the bottom corner of the net before going down on one knee to celebrate in front of the Streatham fans.
More sloppy penalties from Streatham took away any momentum and the game became quite scrappy with neither team looking particularly dangerous. Streatham made it 3-1 with another shorthanded goal, as Klima showed great skill again to wriggle through the Devils defence, but then the Devils hit back immediately on the powerplay as Gyorgy Kovacs poked the puck home from close range after a shot from the point by Jamie Fitzpatrick.
The game threatened to get nasty as Redskins forward Jamie McIlroy and Devils defenseman Will Francis clashed in the corner, however the Devils Player Coach declined the Scots’ offer to drop the gloves in centre ice.
The third period started well for the Redskins as Johnston jinked his way through to the left hand side of Taylors goal before firing the puck into the far corner of the net with just a minute gone. Another hooking penalty for the Redskins gave Solent a powerplay and Fitzpatrick hit a sweet one timer past Sanderson from the point from a Richard Nembhard pass.
The Redskins took a slashing penalty straight from the restart but their shorthanded unit came up trumps for the third time in the game. Hopkins releasing Johnston and the Redskins captain firing high into the top of the net from the hash marks.
At 5-3 up the Redskins looked like they might run away with the game but Solent took advantage of another powerplay to reduce the deficit thanks to an effort from the hardworking Nembhard.
A minute later the Devils levelled things up as the Redskins defence got into all sorts of trouble and Mitchell Murray fired home a rebound unmarked as Sanderson laid sprawled on the ice.
Streatham needed to stay out of the box if they wanted to avoid dropping points and they began to ask questions of Taylor again, who was still in good form.
A rare Redskins powerplay occurred with four minutes left as Murray went from hero to villain tripping the speedy Allen down the boards and Streatham took full advantage of the 5 on 3 powerplay.
Klima spotting Allen (pictured right) unmarked on the far post and the battered and bruised Centre man fired home first time to spark scenes of celebration. Solent pulled Taylor for an extra skater in the final minute as they desperately sought an equaliser but Klima punished them again, intercepting the puck on the red line and sending his wrist shot perfectly into the centre of the net to make it 7-5 to Streatham.
It was a cruel blow to the Devils who had battled hard to get back into the game but ultimately Streatham deserved the two points, even if they made life more difficult for themselves taking a total of twenty four minutes in minor penalties across the game.
Pictures by Rick Webb