BRACKNELL Bees' hopes of making the National League play-offs have suffered a blow despite a sensational 7-1 win over Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday, writes Dave Wright.

The previous evening they had gone down 2-1 in overtime to Raiders, the side they are pursuing in a hot race for the eighth and final qualifying place.

Following a three-point weekend, ninth-placed Bees continue to trail their rivals by three points ahead of the return fixture at Romford this Saturday.

Raiders are the league's most in-form team with six successive victories, three of them at Bracknell's expense.

In front of one of the biggest Hive attendances this season, the TSI World-sponsored side dominated the opening period on Saturday, out-shooting their visitors 15-4, but they just could not get the puck past goalie Ethan James.

Bees fell behind to Jake Sylvester's opener for Raiders at 27.27, but Aidan Doughty brought the scores level just one second short of 37 minutes.

After the final period had failed to produce a goal, it took Aaron Connolly just 29 seconds of overtime to secure a vital win for his side.

Following that heartbreak, Bees did not get off to the best of starts on Sunday when, with Ryan Webb in the sin-bin, they conceded a powerplay goal to James Spurr at 1.29.

However, Bees started to get more into the game and drew level through Josh Ealey-Newman on the stoke of 15 minutes.

It took just 30 seconds of the second period for Dominik Gabaj to put Bees ahead when they were on the powerplay, and from then on they never looked back as they overpowered a Sheffield side which had beaten leaders Telford the previous day.

With Doug Sheppard's men again having a man advantage, Aidan Doughty took advantage to make it 3-1 at 26.45.

Roman Malinik bagged a brace at 27.39 and 35.19 for a perfect 4-0 middle period which also saw Sheffield change their netminder.

Bees extended their lead with Gabaj, at 40.18, and Doughty, 46.52, both netting their second goal of the game.

It was a solid all-round team performance and a disciplined one as well, with Webb the only Bee to visit the sin-bin.

Gabaj, who has netted 35 goals in 31 matches, was voted man-of-the-match in what was Bracknell's penultimate home fixture of the season – unless, of course, they make the play-offs. If that is to be achieved, they badly need four points from this coming weekend's two away games – at Romford on Saturday (5.15pm), followed by Sheffield on Sunday (4.30pm).

Last Sunday, the supporters' club handed over a cheque for £10,300 to the Bees, taking the season's tally past £27,000.

Last week, Bees also presented £1,500 to Royal Marsden Hospital in London with players Danny Milton, Zack Milton and Ryan Webb, as well as Casey Wilton from Bracknell Hornets, spending time there and helping young patients to try their hand at ice hockey.

Danny said: “Seeing the kids put on the kit, shoot some balls and pucks and getting to see a smile on their faces makes you realise why you love the sport.”