Murrayfield Racers, led by four goals and three assists from captain Joel Gautschi, made it five wins from five games as defending Stuart Robertson Cup winners, thrashing Paisley Pirates 9-1 at Murrayfield last night. The two sides meet again in Racers’ final group game of the competition at Braehead Arena next month, as they look to have all but sewn up top-seed status going into the knockout
Murrrayfield got off to a fast start, scoring after just 35 seconds, Callum Boyd tapping the puck home after some slick passing involving Gautschi and Rihards Grigors. Racers went on to dominate the early stages and Gautschi was on hand to make it 2-0 with a power-play goal, prompting Pirates player-coach Adam Walker to call a time-out after just four minutes and 32 seconds of play.
The game was physical from the off, Racers losing their early momentum after forward Michael Ireland was ejected from the game for slew-footing in the tenth minute.
In a fast and furious second period Paisley pulled a goal back in the 25th minute, former Racers sniper Daniel Abercrombie with a nice finish on the power-play. The visitors shot themselves in the foot late in the period. Both Jay Duncan and Ben Walker were called for roughing penalties leading to a two minute five-on-three Murrayfield power-play. Racers took full advantage, scoring twice through Gautschi and Alex Christian to take a 4-1 lead going into the final 20 minutes.
The game was over as a contest when Gautschi and Christian scored within 60 seconds of one another to give Racers a 6-1 lead with a little under 15 minutes to play and Paisley lost their discipline in a feisty encounter that saw Gautschi, Archie Holmes and Boyd all net late power-play goals for the home side.
A delighted Racers head-coach Tony Hand said: “We played really well tonight, we wanted a reaction after our defeat (to Billingham Stars in the NIHL North Cup) last week, and we got that. We played a fast transition game and took our chances.”Asked to comment on a seven-point night for Gautschi, Hand continued: “Joel’s been by far our most productive player this season, also I think he’s learned a defensive side to his game and turned himself into a more complete player, he’s worked hard and he deserves this.”