Chelmsford Chieftains set up play-off semi-final with London Raiders
- Credit: Archant
NIHL play-offs Bracknell Hornets 2 Chelmsford Chieftains 4 Chelmsford Chieftains 6 Bracknell Hornets 2 (Chelmsford win 10-4) The fans, the media and pretty much everybody who follows the NIHL South leagues expected this tie to be nothing more of a formality.
But it was much closer than anyone expected as Chieftains brought a fairly narrow two-goal lead back to Riverside on Sunday after taking the win at The Hive by a 4-2 margin.
The return leg on Sunday saw a less than packed Riverside expecting big numbers as it took just 3:04 for top scorer Juraj Huska to open the scoring from the slot, Liam Chong and Grant Bartlett getting the assists.
The home fans were soon silenced, however, as just 54 seconds later Will Stead centred a pass to a waiting Conor Redmond who beat Sonny Phillips to even the game and bring the overall deficit back to two.
The second period started with the home fans being stunned, Jordan Gregory setting up Josh Martin to give Bracknell the go ahead goal on the night just twelve seconds into the period.
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That seemed to wake Chieftains up as they found a spring in their step when Huska set up Brandon Ayliffe at 21:51 to tie the game up again, and a minute later Ayliffe netted the go ahead goal, this time with the help of Cameron Bartlett.
The result of the Chieftains’ onslaught was inevitable, however and, just before the halfway point of the period, Danny Hammond and Darren Brown combined for scores to make it 5-2 on the night and 8-4 on aggregate.
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The home fans could taste a big scoreline coming on then as shots rained down on Hornets’ minder Milton.
With a little over five minutes of the game remaining, they were rewarded when Brandon Ayliffe picked up a loose puck and bagged his first hat trick as a Chieftain.
Final score 6-2 on the night in favour of Chieftains, 10-4 on aggregate to set up a pair of thrilling semi-final encounters this weekend against London Raiders, who ran out massive winners over Oxford City Stars.
A big crowd is expected this Sunday so fans should arrive early for what should be a thriller.
The Raiders are sure to put up a fight to stop their biggest rivals from securing another clean sweep of the NIHL silverware on offer.
Doors open at 5.15pm and face-off is a 6.30pm.