A battling display from the Invicta Dynamos saw them claw back a 4-1 deficit to tie the game at 4-4 with 11 minutes to go on Sunday night but they would eventually lose out 7-4 at the hands of the title challenging Basingstoke Bison.
The hosts came into the tie with 17 skaters but minus George Hoang and Joshua Condren whilst the Bison had a man less with Daniel Lackey, Samuel Brooks and Roman Malinik each missing the trip. Damien King and Dean Skinns were the starting netminders.
In the opening frame the Mos started brightly – Jaroslav Cesky’s centring pass tipped wide by Ashley Jackson in front whilst Steve Osman benefited from an odd bounce off the backboards as he picked up the puck close right but Dean Skinns made the save despite having been wrongfooted.
Having survived the intial surge the Bison then fought their way into the tie and Dan Davies saw a backhand flick at point blank range steered wide by the pads of Damien King before the visitors took the lead at 08.47. Ivan Antonov’s pass from the left corner found Tomas Karpov in the slot and he swept to the back stick where Davies poked home for 1-0. Daniel Scott then tested the netminder with a blue line drive through traffic that he was equal too before the away side added a second at 13.02. Ondrej Zosiak’s attempted clearance hit the grounded Aaron Connolly before falling perfectly to Karpov between the circles and the import lashed into the top right corner to make it 2-0.
The Mos should have answered soon after as Jaroslav Cesky was found in the high slot with a clear route to goal but the Czech’s slapshot was the wrong side of the right post. They were then fortunate not to be further behind as Ondrej Zosiak chopped down Joshua Smith with a trip as he escaped on the breakaway resulting in a penalty shot at 17.10 but Smith attempted to be crafty with his effort – approaching from the left and aiming a cheeky chip to the back stick only to miss the target altogether.
Having found themselves on the backfoot for much of the opening period the Mos came out with a new intensity in the second and they were on the scoreboard by 25.02. Arran Strawson’s reverse pass from the right boards found Scott Bailey close left and he flicked to the crease where Mason Webster coolly lifted over Dean Skinns on the backhand to halve the deficit at 2-1.
Being pegged back fired Basingstoke into life and two quick replies from the visitors soon had them seemingly out of sight. At 29.04 Dan Davies and Tomas Karpov entered the final third 2-on-1 and Davies found his teammate at the back post who turned in to re-establish the two goal cushion. At 31.04 it was 4-1 – the puck bouncing back to Joe Baird near the blue line and his wrist shot to goal looked to take a sizeable deflection off Aaron Connolly en route leaving Damien King no chance to react. The Mos fought back though and answered themselves just 36 seconds later – Steve Osman charging at net from wide left with his first shot hitting the pads of Dean Skinns and his second bouncing off the near post to Mason Webster at the back stick who did the rest to double his tally for the night and make it 4-2.
Late on the hosts could have cut further into their deficit as the Bison suffered penalty trouble with Dan Scott and Aaron Connolly in the box at the same time but Louis Colvin sent a backhand shot over the bar from point blank right with the netminder out of position and Scott Bailey produced a flash glove save from Dean Skinns with an effort from the left circle.
After a much improved second period the Dynamos continued the charge in the last and Louis Colvin sent a shot wide of the left post from clear in the slot as they pressured the Basingstoke net. Colvin’s goal drought was then at an end come 43.50 – the forward turning his way out of the right corner beyond Dan Scott and gliding around the challenge of Elliott Dewey before firing past Dean Skinns at his near post to make it 4-3. The pressure continued to mount with Scott Bailey forcing a save from the netminder left of the net whilst Brandon Webster drilled into his mask with a slapshot from the right boards. At 48.58 that pressure told – Ashley Jackson finding Jaroslav Ceksy in the left circle and the Czech slamming a slapshot low into the bottom far corner to tie the game at 4-4.
However, with a fairy-tale upset potentially on the cards, Basingstoke found another level to prevent an unexpected falter in their title charge. At 52.29 they were back in front – Kurt Reynolds dumped the puck into the final third before an odd bounce off the backboards presented possession to Ivan Antonov between the circles and he thumped in low beyond Damien King for the 5-4 lead. Ashley Jackson was then sent to the box for hooking and the Bison made the most of the powerplay to tally another at 53.31 – Antonov found Dan Davies behind the net and he came out on the right side before sending a low backhand shot over the line that made it 6-4.
The tie was truly put to bed at 56.22 – Ashley Jackson’s attempted clearance close left rebounding off, and dropping nicely for, Hallam Wilson and he coolly lifted over the shoulder of the netminder at his near post to seal the 7-4 victory.
So it was defeat for the Dynamos but they deserved credit for battling back to parity midway through the last when the game already looked lost. Basingstoke appeared to have the extra depth of quality and ultimately that won them the tie as they pulled away again late on to keep their title challenge on track. Man of the match awards went to Louis Colvin of the Mos and Dan Davies of the Bison.
Written by Paul Bennett.