Racers return to winning ways
National League: Haringey 5 Bristol 1
The CVS Haringey Racers got back to winning ways with a resounding victory over the Bristol Pitbulls at Alexandra Palace last night.
Haringey were winless in their previous five games but they started strongly, created early chances and were rewarded in the eighth minute.
Top point scorer Drew Campbell picked the puck up in centre ice, dangled through the middle and found the corner of the net from distance.
The hosts struck again in the 14th minute when good work down low from Ricky Mills and Ben Osborne allowed Matt Brown to stuff the puck in from close range, for his third goal in two games.
Osborne then turned provider for Mills in the 35th minute, as he latched onto the puck in a great position and rifled a snapshot into the top corner.
Haringey made it 4-0 less than two minutes later, when a rare powerplay chance allowed Campbell to tee up Sam Roberts for a rocket of a shot which left Bristol goalie John Dibble no chance.
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Bristol had been under the cosh at times but had always looked like they had the potential to score on the break and finally hit back in the final minute of the second period.
A succession of Haringey penalties eventually led to Olly Shone, who had threatened all night, firing past Ian Shepherd for a powerplay goal.
But Racers completed the scoring with the only goal of the third period, as hard work from Campbell in the offensive zone led to Sean Martin tipping home his shot.
Acting head coach Dan Sampson said: ”It was a much better team effort, we’ve been trying to teach the boys that they need to work two ways, win the 50-50 battles and improve their positional play.
“In the last few weeks we had strayed away from that and we had lost a little bit of belief and passion, but it seemed like it was all back where it should have been and we played a very solid 60 minutes.”
Haringey’s discipline and poor finishing had been a factor in their recent losing run, but Sampson felt they were moving in the right direction.
He added: “We got away with it a little bit. Some of them were questionable calls, but if you want to be a good team you have to be able to play through what you may feel is not the correct call by an official.
“The finishing was much better though, especially in regard to rebounds and scrapping for pucks in front of the net and we focused more on the quality of shots than the quantity.”
Sampson was also pleased to see the scoring spread throughout the team, with Brown, Martin and Roberts rediscovering their form.
He said: “Those guys haven’t scored as many goals, as we and probably they expected to score at the start of the season, so it’s good to see them all getting on the scoresheet and I think that all three of them are generally playing better all over the ice as the season goes on.
“I don’t know if any of them were having problems with confidence, but they seem to be getting pucks to the net at the right times now, not overplaying it and are proving that if you do the right things and work hard, then good things will come to you.”
Racers play the nomadic Pitbulls again at Oxford next Sunday (January 19) but Sampson warned: ” It will be a totally different game. Richie (Hargreaves) will not be happy with the way they played, even though we got some good bounces and ‘Sheppy’ (Shepherd) had a good game.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves and work on a few things. It’s not going to be a walk over and we’ve got to drill into the guys that it will be a totally different game. Hopefully we’ll play with a little more confidence though, and hopefully this is the first sign of us moving back toward our best.”
Scorers, Racers: Drew Campbell 1+2 Ricky Mills 1+1 Matt Brown 1 Sam Roberts 1 Sean Martin 1 Ben Osborne 0+2 Ryan Blackwood 0+1.
Shots on goal: Ian Shepherd (Racers) 36 John Dibble (Bristol) 41.
Penalty minutes: Racers 12 Bristol 6.