Bhubaneshwar: Hosts Kalinga Lancers started this year's Hero Hockey India League with a bang by defeating newcomers Ranchi Rays 6-3 in a high-scoring inaugural match of the third edition of the tournament in front of a capacity crowd at Kalinga Stadium here today.
The best part about Lancers' display today was that they scored five goals through field efforts while one came from penalty corner. They had finished last in their debut season last year.
Lucas Villa (3rd minute), Ryan Archibald (17th), skipper Vikram Kanth (18th), Gurjinder Singh (37th), Mandeep Antil (58th) and Mohd Amir Khan (60th) were the goal scorers for the winners.
For Ranchi Rays, captain Ashley Jackson (36th, 50th) converted two penalty corners and Barry Middleton (14th) scored the other from a field effort.
Under new coach Jude Felix, the Lancers looked more organised and started on a positive note with some impressive runs into the rival citadel.
Egged on by a vociferous home crowd, the Lancers took the lead in the third minute through Villa, who scored with a nice lob over Ranchi custodian Lovell Tyler's head from a counter-attack.
The Lancers continued to attack after surging ahead and in the process earned three penalty corners in succession, two of which was wasted by Argentine Gonzalo Peillat and the third was not stopped properly.
The Rays played well in patches at least in the first two quarters but managed to draw level in the 14th minute when Englishman Barry Middleton scored with a reverse hit from a tight angle to end the opening quarter at 1-1 scoreline.