Bracknell Bees progress to play-off semi-finals

Bees overcame Raiders at the weekend

Bracknell Bees have booked their spot in the NIHL South 1 play-off semi-finals following a 6-3 aggregate victory over Romford Raiders.

The tie was locked at 1-1 after the first leg on Saturday but Bees produced the goods at The Hive on Sunday, winning 5-2 on the night with Roman Malinik, Scott Spearing, Tyler VanKleef, Harvey Stead and Stuart Mogg all on target.

The win sets up a semi-final showdown with league champions Swindon Wildcats after they demolished Invicta Dynamos 24-5 over two legs in their quarter-final.

Tyler VanKleef found the net again

“This weekend we played with great intensity and we showed we can how we need to at this time of year,” said Bracknell’s head coach Doug Sheppard.

“We are beginning to hit our stride and that showed in all dimensions of our play.

“For the guys to play in front of such a tremendous atmosphere was also a huge benefit. I hope our fans will bring the same again next weekend.”

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Having lost to Raiders at this stage last season, Bees got off to the worst possible start in the first leg as Aaron Connolly put the hosts ahead after three minutes.

Bracknell then began to dominate the shot count but could not find an equaliser until the third period arrived where Edward Knaggs picked out Shaun Thompson to score as the game ended all square.

Sheppard’s men got off to a strong start on Sunday with VanKleef striking a post early on. The first goal soon followed as Malinik turned in an Aidan Doughty strike.

The second period proved to be decisive as Bracknell raced 4-0 clear on the night with Mogg, Stead and Spearing all scoring within three minutes of each other.

Raiders rallied with goals from Juraj Husak and Jake Sylvester to reduce the arrears to 5-3 on aggregate heading into the final period.

But it was Bees who scored again to clinch the win through VanKleef on a powerplay.

Bracknell will now host Swindon on Saturday (6pm) before the return leg on Sunday (4.15pm).

“We’ve proven throughout the season we are a match for the Wildcats,” said Sheppard.

“I believe it will be a tightly contested series with the chance of progressing to (finals night in) Coventry.”

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