It was a narrow 5-3 defeat for the Invicta Dynamos against the Basingstoke Bison on Sunday but the loss was through no lack of effort as the hosts pushed their former EPL visitors all the way with a gutsy display at the SilverBlades, Gillingham.
With the 11-1 capitulation at the hands of the London Raiders a week before still fresh in the mind, the Dynamos began the game determined to make their mark and had lit the lamp inside just 38 seconds. Ryan Morgan found Callum Fowler on the left wing and he sent his first shot into the pads of Daniel Weller-Evans before snapping the rebound beyond the netminder at point blank range to make it 1-0.
A busy first minute then culminated in two fights – Mos D-man Tommy Ralph less than impressed with Danny Scott’s knee-on-knee collision with import Adam Rehak, who was already carrying a knee injury from the week before, and racing in to exchange blows with Bison blue liner. Ralph and Scott each landed a number of blows with the Basingstoke man arguably finishing the stronger. At the same time Adam Rehak and Grant Rounding squared off – Rounding no match for the Czech and simply doing his best to keep his head out of range before falling to the ice. Bizarrely Rounding picked up Scott’s kneeing minor whilst all fighters received the standard 2+2.
When the action restarted Jaroslav Cesky was unlucky not to pull the Bison level – his effort from close right hitting the inside of the far post and being cleared by a frantic Dynamos defence. The home side’s rear guard eventually gave way at 10.38 – import Tomas Karpov managed to work some space in front of the net and shifted left before sweeping beyond a grounded Damien King for 1-1.
The Mos could have retaken the lead soon after as Ondrej Zosiak powered forward and picked out Scott Bailey right in front but his goalbound poke from the slot was turned wide by the outstretched leg of Weller-Evans. Having been spared at the back, the Bison then went ahead with a fortuitous goal at 12.56 – a Kurt Reynolds blue line shot taking a hefty deflection en route that left King helpless and Aaron Connolly claiming the strike though, in truth, he would have known little about it.
Before the period was through the Dynamos lost Adam Rehak to a 10 minute misconduct after he challenged a late offside whistle whilst Damien King twice denied Tomas Karpov as he went looking for his second.
In the middle frame the visitors thought they had their third goal at 24.29 as Ivan Antonov expertly roofed over the netminder’s shoulder from between the circles however he did so with teammate Elliott Dewey stood in the crease and so the effort was washed out. Brandon Webster then showed the commitment that typified the home side on the night – rushing out and diving in front of two Danny Scott blue line drives in the space of just a matter of seconds. At the other end Daniel Weller-Evans kept the Bison in front – Callum Fowler beating his man out wide before playing the puck to the crease where both Mason Webster and Adam Rehak were denied at point blank range.
However it was Basingstoke who were creating more chances and Damien King had to be at his best to stop Aaron Connolly from close right and again with a low shot from the slot just moments later. It was during a 2 minute boarding penalty to Ondrej Zosiak that the visitors finally added to their lead – at 33.16 Grant Rounding played the puck back towards the blue line where the on-rushing Danny Scott belted low into the bottom right corner for the 3-1 edge.
After the strike Jaroslav Cesky escaped on a rare breakaway but Mos the Mos netminder stood firm to block with his defence then clearing off the line. At this point the hosts could have dropped their heads but instead they battled on and pulled within one again at 38.52 – the puck breaking back to Tommy Ralph on the blue line who drove a one-timer through traffic and over the shoulder of Weller-Evans to cut the deficit to 3-2. It could have been all square at the break but the netminder then made a fantastic double stop as he blocked Callum Fowler from the left before gloving Adam Rehak’s immediate follow up right in front.
In the final period an early penalty to Tomas Karpov put the Mos on the powerplay and they worked an opening well as Scott Bailey’s pass from the left boards found Tommy Ralph racing to the back post from the blue line but his eventual shot was off target.
Down the other end Aaron Connolly fired off the shoulder of Damien King from the left circle whilst Karpov was also denied on his return to the ice with a low shot on the spin from the slot. Eventually the Bison pressure told at 48.57 – Karpov again timing his skate to perfection to get free in front of the crease and being found by a threaded pass from Ivan Antonov that he duly dispatched beyond the goalie to make it 4-2.
However, once again, the Mos refused to give in and they were back within one as soon as 49.36 – Louis Colvin making his first Dynamos strike a wonder goal as he collected the puck in the neutral zone, deked around the outside of Danny Scott and flicked into the far corner of the net on the backhand from close right for 4-3.
Unfortunately a boarding penalty to Mason Webster moments later gave Basingstoke the initiative and they tallied another on the powerplay to secure a two goal cushion that would eventually seal the points. At 50.38 an Ivan Antonov slapshot from the back of the right circle slipped through the 5-hole of an unsighted Damien King to put the Bison 5-3 to the good. Once again the Dynamos continued to battle hard and Callum Fowler pinged the near post with a shot from close left before time eventually ran out and the buzzer sounded to confirm Basingstoke’s victory.
At the end of the clash a disagreement between Fowler and referee Blaine Evans immediately saw the official go to his hips twice for a misconduct and game misconduct.
So it was a defeat for the Dynamos but the manner of the loss will only give plenty of cause for encouragement to the hosts who were much improved from just a week ago. Every player gave their all for 60 minutes and, whilst the Bison clearly had the extra depth in quality, the Mos were more than a match for work rate and determination. Man of the match awards went to Ivan Antonov of Basingstoke and Tommy Ralph for the Dynamos.
Written by Paul Bennett.