An Eriks Ozollapa double and goals from five more saw the Invicta Dynamos begin the 2015/16 campaign with a 7-4 victory over the Bracknell Hornets in the NIHL South Division 1 on Sunday.
The Mos welcomed nine new faces into the fold following a busy summer but it was a familiar name that got the breakthrough – Nicky Lewis celebrating his new role as captain by racing onto a Bailey Wootton pass in the slot and driving beyond Mark Duffy for 1-0 at 02.06. However despite the early lead it was Bracknell who looked more composed in the opening moments, having played four games already this term, and they levelled when Daniel Hughes prodded home a rebound from Luke Reynold’s long drive at 05.44. The teams then traded chances before the Hornets nabbed the lead at 14.01 – a clinical counter seeing Tomas Fojtik speed down the left channel before a centring pass that an unmarked Brandon Miles dispatched over the line from right in front. It was to be the first of four quick-fire goals as the period drew to a close with the second an equaliser from the Mos at 15.43. Netminder Mark Duffy’s well timed poke check robbed Adam McNicoll of the puck on the edge of the crease but the play fell to Jacob Ranson who swept in from close right for 2-2. At 18.10 the hosts were then ahead – Ondrej Zosiak dumping the puck on goal and Duffy only able to pad out to Conor Redmond who did the rest from a similar position as Ranson for the slenderest of leads. However, just as it looked like the Mos would return to the changing room 3-2 to the good, the Hornets hit back when Greg Chambers found Ryan Handisides in front and the Bracknell forward eventually forced beyond Mark McGill to make it 3-3.
After a goal frenzy in the opening period, the second saw both sides tighten up at the back and struggle to find the target at the other end. Jacob Ranson fired wide from the right circle and Eriks Ozollapa forced a fine glove save from Mark Duffy for the Mos whilst Mark McGill denied a Brandon Miles breakaway and robbed Daniel Hughes of a close range finish for Bracknell. Eventually the deadlock was broken at 31.54 but when it came it had been worth the wait – Bailey Wootton speeding away down the right channel for the Dynamos, flicking the puck through the legs of Harvey Hind-Pitcher to go in on goal and finding the top far corner with a backhand sweep that made it 4-3. Soon after tempers threatened to flair as Joshua Martin sought retribution on Nicky Lewis after a crunching hit to Tom Fisher but Jack Lee stepped in and roughing minors was the only result. Come the close of the second frame the Dynamos returned to the changing room still one ahead with 20 minutes to go.
With the first two periods lacking polish the Mos began to shake off the summer rust in the third as they became more familiar and upped the ante in the final spell. Eriks Ozollapa was denied his debut goal by the width of a post whilst Jacob Ranson had too many touches right in front and was unable to poke home with the net at his mercy. At 47.46 the hosts then made it count – Tom Fisher conceding a penalty shot by hauling down Ozollapa as he threatened to escape on the breakaway and the Latvian selling Mark Duffy a dummy before driving in low left to make it 5-3. Bracknell answered instantly at 48.24 – Ryan Handisides finding Daniel Hughes in the left circle and the Hornets’ player/coach firing back across net over the glove of Mark McGill to cut the deficit to one. Unfortunately for the visitors it was their last of the night whilst the hosts claimed two more to move out of sight. At 51.00 Ozollapa had his second with a moment of brilliance – the import defeating defenceman Matt Jordan with a delightful deke and lashing high into the top far corner for a highlight reel goal. At 54.39 the win was then complete – Andy Henderson crossing the blue line and letting loose with his first attempt hitting Jordan’s shins but his second finding twine for 7-4.
So it was an opening day win for the Dynamos who looked increasingly convincing as the game progressed and commanded the third to take the two points. Both imports impressed whilst Kevin Parrish’s band of youngsters perhaps raised a few eyebrows with glimpses of what is still to come as the team begins to gel. Man of the match awards went to Ryan Handisides of Bracknell whilst captain Nicky Lewis took the spoils for the Mos having claimed his 100th goal in Invicta colours.