The Invicta Dynamos became the first team to take anything from the Riverside this season as they battled back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with the Chelmsford Chieftains in the NIHL South Division 1 on Sunday night.
Part of the pre-match talk was the potential showdown of the King brothers in both nets but, with the injured Euan King not icing for Chelmsford, Ben Clements took responsibility between the pipes. Also missing from the Chieftains’ roster were Darren Brown, Lukas Zatopek and Ollie Baldock whilst Invicta called on the same line-up from the previous night meaning no Nicky Lewis and Adam McNicoll.
The opening period saw a fast paced start by both teams and the visitors came close to an early lead as they hit the Chelmsford goal frame inside the third minute. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pad, Damien King had to be on guard to deny the ever dangerous Juraj Huska. It was to be a penalty ridden first for Chelmsford who rocked-up 16 minutes in the opening period – mainly down to Grant Bartlett who was responsible for 12 of them. The Mos tried to benefit with Eriks Ozollapa in the clear with just 40 seconds of time remaining but Clements pulled out a brilliant stop before, at 19.57, Invicta put the puck in the net on only for referee Rene Ross to disallow it with the goal frame coming away from the line. The only disappointment from a good first 20 minutes for the Dynamos was an early injury to Bailey Wootton who would play no further part in the game.
In the second period, at 23.44, Ben Clements produced a great glove save to deny Eriks Ozollapa once again but, at 27.31, the Latvian finally found a way through as he robbed an opponent and hit a screamer beyond the netminder to give the Dynamos a one goal lead. The strike put Chelmsford into second gear and they started to push the Mos back into their own zone – eventually leading to a Chieftains reply at 37.25 as Matt France tallied and Alex Staples and James Ayling assisted.
In the final period early chances fell to the home side’s James Ayling and Juraj Huska but a stubborn Damien King denied them on both occasions. At 47.30 Invicta then threatened – forward Josh Condren winning the puck and playing a pass to Conor Redmond whose incoming effort was well saved by Ben Clements. It would prove an important stop – 48.25 on the clock when Cameron Bartlett skittled through the Dynamos defence and played a cutting pass across the goal for Anthony Leone to tap home and give the hosts a 2-1 lead. A couple of minutes later Juraj Huska then couldn’t miss when Danny Hammond laid the puck across the visitors’ crease for the Slovak to make it 3-1 and seemingly put the outcome beyond doubt. However Invicta Head Coach Kevin Parrish called an immediate timeout and his words of direction instantly paid off – Josh Condren stroking the puck beyond Clements at 49.50 for his second goal in just two days – Jacob Ranson claiming the assist. Treatment would be called for Condren shortly after as the young forward fell victim to a shoulder injury that would keep him out of the remainder of the tie. The Mos continued to push forward though and had the puck in the Chelmsford goal again on 54.25 – the referee’s whistle denying them once more and ongoing protests by Arran Strawson securing him a ten minute misconduct penalty. However the visitors’ disappointment was swiftly forgotten – Steve Osman found in space by Ondrej Zosiak who hit the equaliser at 55.03 to make it 3-3 – Conor Redmond claiming the second assist. The Chieftains then thought they had sneaked victory in the dying moments but it was their turn to endure the misfortune of a washed out goal with the puck hitting Damien King’s helmet from an initial shot before the rebound was tucked beyond him.
So it was a fantastic draw on the road for the Dynamos who had previously endured a miserable double digit defeat on their most recent visit to the Riverside in October. Despite two washed out goals and injuries to Bailey Wootton and Joshua Condren that left the pair out of the tie, the Mos fought back valiantly to complete a three point weekend. Conor Redmond received the man of the match beers for the visitors whilst Alex Staples took the honours for Chelmsford. Meanwhile Damien King ended-up facing 44 efforts on net giving him a 93.18% save percentage and Ben Clements in the Chelmsford goal faced two more shots for a stop rate of 93.48%.
Written by Lee Allen.