Alex Murray’s mint weekend as Devils rise to fourth

  • Solent head coach proud of battling qualities
  • George Norcliffe scores four times across weekend
  • Milton Keynes Thunder beaten 5-4 at Gosport Arena
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Solent Devils moved into fourth spot in National League south division one after collecting three points in last weekend’s double-header.

George Norcliffe was on target as the Gosport Arena outfit netted a 1-1 draw at London Raiders on Saturday.

And 24 hours later they eased to a 5-3 success over Milton Keynes Thunder on home ice, with Norcliffe once again leading the way with a hat-trick.

Mitchell Murray and Richard Brown were also on the mark as the Devils continued their encouraging start to the new campaign.

Head coach Alex Murray said: ‘It was a great weekend overall.

‘Saturday was a tough game but the boys battled hard and we were unfortunate to have guys injured.

‘Despite being short on Sunday, the whole team stepped up and we beat a good team with loads of experience. It was definitely a good result.’

It took 29 minutes for the deadlock to be broken on Saturday, with Liam Chong teeing up Sam Roberts to beat Christian Cole and put London Raiders in front.

The Devils soon stepped up the pressure, though, and took advantage of a power play when Murray and Richard Facey laid on the leveller for the in-form Norcliffe.

But in the end the visitors were left frustrated by a fourth draw on the season.

And there was added pain when Ralfs Circenis and Domink Hegyi picked up injuries which ruled them out of the clash with Milton Keynes.

But despite the duo sitting in the crowd at the Gosport Arena, the Devils wasted no time in asserting their authority against Thunder.

Steve Gosset had a shot from the blue line, which was blocked by visiting keeper Damien King.

But George Norcliffe was alert to pick up the rebound and power it into the net.

A pair of power play goals followed early in to the second period.

The first came from Thunder when – in a big struggle in front of the Devils crease – Cole ended up on the ice and Thomas Castle took advantage.

Two minutes later, though, Mason Wild and Alex Murray found Mitchell Murray in centre ice and he threaded his way between two defenders before sending the puck high in to the net.

Just after the 30-minute mark Harrison Goode levelled again but the Devils were not to be denied.

Brown and Mitchell Murray provided assists for a second Norcliffe goal.

And with the hosts turning up the heat, Alex Cole and Mitchell Murray helped Brown notch his first goal for the club.

Halfway through the third period, Thunder attempted to launch a comeback as Ross Bowers and Tom Mboya helped Line make it 4-3.

The Devils quickly snuffed it out, though, as Mitchell Murray bagged a third assist – this time linking up with Shaun Rudkin to help Norcliffe complete his hat-trick.

Next up for the Devils is a trip to Wightlink Raiders on Saturday (6pm).