The Invicta Dynamos opened their 2017/18 season with a defeat in the newly formed NIHL South 1 (Britton) league against early title favourites the Basingstoke Bison.
The Mos, sporting borrowed jerseys after a supplier issue handed debuts to a number of new recruits including new captain Bobby Chamberlain. Meanwhile the Bison ice two of the Dynamos most consistent performers from last season in Elliott Dewey and Ashley Jackson.
For some people not connected to the Mos it was fair to say predictions were to see the Dynamos crack under the pressure from the Bison and look as unstable as the rink in Basingstoke – hence why half of it is now shutoff to supporters. However, the opening frame was a tight affair, the Mos protecting netminder Damien King who himself was a cool as the chilling temperatures within the rink.
Early glove warmers for King were comfortable saves from Aaron Connolly and Dan Scott who both ironically were former Invicta Dynamo junior players. Connolly was soon on the receiving end of a charge from Chamberlain – the Mos skipper getting two minutes in the penalty bin for his troubles. The Mos defended the resulting powerplay for the opening 20 seconds before Dan Scott was called for slashing and putting the game to a 4 on 4 battle. The game really opened up, Scott Bailey with a half chance which was gobbled up by home netminder Dean Skinns whereas at the other end of the pad, King was equal to efforts from Ryan Sutton and Paul Petts.
The Dynamos’ resolve was broken a few minutes later – a sloppy tripping penalty by Harrison Lillis on Grant Rounding put the Dynamos on the back foot again as the Bison took advantage of the powerplay. Tomas Karpov rifled the puck beyond King on 09:36 for the opening goal – Connolly assisting. Lillis was again in the thick of the action in the 13th minute – with Josh Condren and Joe Baird battling for possession in the far corner behind Skinns’ net, Lillis threw a hit on Baird which caused Bison’s Kurt Reynolds to steam into Lillis and also Arran Strawson to charge at Reynolds.
When order was restored, referee Timothy Pickett (who had a good game it should be noted), handed out two minute penalties to Strawson, Lillis and Reynolds – leaving the Mos a man down. The powerplay was defended well by the away side but not long after returning to full strength they had to defend another following a Mason Webster crosscheck on Dan Scott. Another successful powerplay kill by the Mos finally gave them full strength and with that came a good possession retrieval by Bobby Chamberlain which led to the captain firing the puck at Skinns and the subsequent rebound falling to Rehak who was unable to take advantage of a great opportunity to equal the scoreline near the end of the 1st period.
The 2nd period had early tests for King with Karpov and Jackson frustrated by the netminder whose form was putting him in place as an early man of the match contender. Ryan Sutton shaved some paintwork off the Mos goal frame on 28 minutes as the Mos crept past the halfway mark still only a goal down. Another 4 on 4 was soon implemented when a Mason Webster slash on Reynolds and retribution sought by his opponent had them both sit out for two minutes. The best opportunity during that period was to the Mos – Fowler’s backhand saved by Skinns.
The 32nd minute had the Bison double their lead – Stuart Mogg finding the bottom corner of the net after being teed-up by Karpov and Antonov. In reply from the Mos Bobby Chamberlain had a shot saved whilst Callum Fowler also went close but for all their efforts the visitors fell further behind not long after. With 34:48 on the clock, a shot by Baird was tipped by Antonov beyond the reach of King for 3-0. Two further saves by King from Connolly and Jackson kept the scoreline down – that before Connolly took an accidental stick to the face from Ralph when tussling for the puck.
The last period commenced with Connolly registering the first Bison shot on goal, Tommy Ralph also doing the same at the other end of the pad as the Mos eagerly searched for their first goal of the season. That goal had a great chance of coming in the 43rd minute with Bison defending a 5 on 3 following penalties against Sutton and Connolly – but other than Fowler blocking his own teammate’s shot with his ankle (from Chamberlain) the Bison stood strong. Not long after the game going to a 5 on 4, Tommy Ralph sat a tripping penalty to put the sides to equal measure on the ice. Goal 4 for Bison shortly followed – Connolly grabbing what turned out to be the final strike, assisted by the impressive Antonov.
So an opening 4 nil defeat for the Mos against their ex-EPL opponents, but coach Kevin Parrish can take heart from the never say die attitude of his troops. Man of the match for Invicta went to Damien King who faced an incredible 54 shots for a save percentage of 92.59. For the hosts, Ivan Antonov single goal and 2 assists had him rewarded with the honours.
Written by Lee Allen.