Streatham Redskins gave the youngsters a skate this weekend as they faced two road trips in as many days in the Cup.
With chances of qualification for the final already gone, Head Coach Warren Rost used both fixtures to rotate his squad and was without Captain Joe Johnston and defensemen Shaun Smith, Phil Manny and Adam Mahoney throughout the weekend.
On Saturday the Londoners made the long trip to the Isle of Wight and lost 9-5 to the high flying Wightlink Raiders.
Teenager’s brothers Tom and Will Poles were handed a debut for the team, whilst fellow prospect Daniel Clayton was called up from Streatham’s Under 18 squad. Youngster Eddie Temple was made captain for the day as Rost ensured that the game acted as a learning curve.
The opening stages of the game were pretty even as the Redskins rotated all four lines to good effect.
The home side opened the scoring with three minutes gone as Richard Facey fired home an Alex Murray pass. Streatham hit straight back as Liam Rasmussen broke free and slid the puck past Dan Weller-Evans in the Wightlink goal.
Three minutes later the Raiders were back in the lead again as Nathan Taylor stepped out of the corner and fired his shot through traffic on the powerplay and it squeezed past Stefan Nubert in the Streatham goal.
Streatham were back level just minutes later as Dom Hopkins long shot from the red line flew into the bottom corner of the net.
Wightlink began to exert further pressure and Craig Tribe broke free after a defensive error on the Streatham blue line and made no mistake with the finish.
The home side extended their lead moments later as Jiri Hanzal showed good accuracy to beat Nubert after a pass from Facey.
At 4-2 up, Wightlink gave away a penalty shot in the dying minutes of the first period after Rasmussen was hauled down when through on goal. The Streatham winger then took the penalty shot but fired straight at Weller-Evans to the delight of the home crowd.
If Streatham had looked competitive in the first period they looked far from it in the second as the home side began to boss proceedings.
The goals soon followed and Tribe got his second of the night just three minutes from the restart and then Corey Watkins, Kieran Annis and Hanzel again added more in quick succession.
Streatham needed to pull themselves together in the third period to avoid a rout and the signs looked ominous as Sam Waller fired home from the point to make it 9-2 to Wightlink.
To their credit Streatham came out hard with Michal Oravec netting a minute later after good work from Balmer and then the Slovak got his second of the night with a well worked powerplay goal involving David Carr and Hopkins.
In between these goals saw the ejection of Annis, who took exception to Oravec and jumped him by the boards.
Streatham scored the final goal of the night in fortuitous circumstances as a dump from Hopkins from the centre circle took a bounce in front of Weller-Evans and landed in the corner of the net to make it 9-5.
On Sunday Streatham travelled north to Milton Keynes and tied 4-4 with the MK Thunder.
Using the same squad minus Scot Jamie McIlroy, Streatham started slowly as they adapted to the much larger Olympic sized ice surface in comparison with the Isle of Wight’s reduced size pad.
MK took full advantage of this and opened the scoring on two minutes as Nidal Phillips finished a rebound in the slot. Minutes later it was two nil as a quick break from the home side saw Simon Howard finish a two on one from close range.
Streatham finally clicked into gear five minutes later with Joe Allen causing all sorts of problems for the Thunder defence and making space for Chris Rasmussen to simply poke the puck in to the net.
Minutes later the two sides were level as Jakub Klima skated wide past the Thunder defence before firing high past Jordan Hedley in the Milton Keynes goal.
Streatham took the lead in the second period thanks to a well worked powerplay goal from Klima after some slick passing from Casimir Madren Britton.
The Thunder did not give up however and hit back with two quick goals before the end of the period. The first a lucky bounce off Streatham defenseman Stewart Taits skate that evaded Nubert, from a pass by Tom Mboya and then a calm finish in the slot from Mark Turner to make it 4-3 Thunder going into the final third.
Streatham began to look stronger as the period went on despite hitting penalty trouble.
They got the equaliser with eleven minutes remaining as Klima chased down a clearance on the shorthanded play and dispossessed a Thunder defenceman before placing the puck past Hedley and into the back of the net.
So despite no win over the weekend there were plenty of positives to take from the games, not least the squad rotation and different systems the Redskins implemented.