The Invicta Dynamos closed out a frustrating 2021/22 league campaign with a bad tempered 5-1 home defeat to the Bristol Pitbulls in a penalty strewn encounter in Gillingham on Sunday.
Coming into the tie the Mos had their strongest roster of recent weeks with a team of 17 taking to the ice against the 20 that travelled from Bristol. Ben Clements and Tyler Perre were the starting netminder.
In the opening period the hosts started well and had the best of the early exchanges – Tomas Banovsky and Ashley Jackson each calling the visiting netminder into action after fine solo skates. Jackson then had perhaps the best chance when Juraj Huska found him clear between the circles but Tyler Perre reacted well to keep his shot at bay. Straight down the other end Bailey Hind-Pitcher forced Clements into action who turned an effort just over the bar – the puck looping upward and landing just on top of the net. Clements then proved his worth again seconds later as he denied Carter-Jaice Lloyd on the breakaway.
At 09.27 came the first signs of a boisterous night – Tamas Elias skating across the path of Brandon Webster and hitting him to the ice behind the play prompting Mason Webster to pursue him and wrestle him to the floor. Elias was called for interference and Webster for roughing whilst Tom Davis and Joseph Llewellyn also sat roughing minors for some shoving.
The first goal of the night then came at 15.02 – Brandon Webster in the thick of the action again as he drilled a shot into the top far corner beyond the reach of Tyler Perre from the left circle for 1-0. However no sooner had the home fans started singing than they were silenced – at 15.20 Billy Woods lost his footing allowing Loris Taylor clean through and he dispatched beyond Ben Clements from close left for 1-1. At 16.19 the visitors were then ahead – the puck dropping to Bailey Hind-Pitcher after a faceoff in the left circle and the forward firing high into the top far corner for the 2-1 lead.
Before the period was over there was just time for another flare up. At 18.31 Juraj Huska and Bailey Perre became entangled behind the Bristol net with the pair then wrestling to the ice where the Slovak landed on top before they were eventually pulled apart. Huska would sit two for cross checking and two for roughing whilst Perre received just the two for cross checking.
After a fairly even opening frame, the second was anything but as the Pitbulls dominated and the Mos created little in response. Steve Osman’s redirect right in front wrong-footed Ben Clements but slipped wide of the right post before the visitors extended their lead to 3-1 at 24.46. This time Sam Smith was the scorer as he fired over the reach of the netminder from the right circle for the two goal cushion. After the restart only Ben Clements kept Bristol from adding more. The goalie had to be at his best to stop Aaron Moody from close right before Mason Lipsey misfired from the edge of the crease when the netminder had been stranded.
At 32.31 tensions spilled over again – Brandon Webster clattered Bailey Perre with a huge hit behind the Invicta net that resulted in Michael Hargreaves exchanging words behind the play. Mason Webster then became involved with Perre, now back on his feet, shoving the Mos man leading to a fight. It was a size mismatch and Perre was quickly grounded whilst Brandon Webster and Hargreaves continued to trade shoves long after the officials had pulled the teams apart. Mason Webster and Perre received five for fighting whilst Brandon Webster and Hargreaves each took two for roughing.
When play restarted Richard Harris took an interference minor for a late hit on Tamas Elias whilst Ben Clements was then called upon to deny Aaron Moody and Mason Lipsey before the period was up to keep the Dynamos in the hunt.
In the final frame the Mos started the period with a defensive horror show that effectively put them out of the game. After giving up a 4-on-1 that Ben Clements denied, Michael Hargreaves then made the hosts pay the price as he too escaped clean through and rifled low beyond the netminder for the 4-1 edge at 43.42. And less than a minute later it was 5-1 – the Mos defence split again as Olly Shone raced through the middle all alone and dispatched beyond the goalie for the last of the night at 44.37.
Having been in the wars all night, Bailey Perre then took a puck to the ribs that saw him initially drop to the ground before immediately racing to the safety of the bench. Fortunately he was able to later return to the ice. More tensions then followed at 49.00 – Tamas Elias putting his stick into the pads of Ben Clements with a late attempt to win the puck promoting Billy Phillips to follow him and slash him to the legs. The players briefly came together before being separated and Elias escorted to the penalty box but, before he could step off the ice, Brandon Webster charged in and began throwing punches with his opponent immediately dropping to the pad. Elias received two for slashing, Phillips four minutes for two lots of slashing and Webster a match penalty for fighting that means he will play no further part this season.
When the action restarted the Pitbulls had a full length 5-on-3 powerplay and then a further three minutes with the man advantage but remarkably they failed to move further ahead largely thanks to Ben Clements. With time winding down, Richard Harris smashed the post with en effort from between the circles before then deciding to try and settle a score of his own. At 57.41 Harris reacted to a prior hit by Tom Stephens by hitting his man off the puck. Harris then tried to get Liam Coleman to drop the gloves before pushing him to the face causing him to fall to the ice. The Mos man would receive two for roughing and a misconduct leaving the hosts short for the remainder of the tie but Bristol made little effort on the powerplay with the game already firmly in their favour.
So it was defeat for the Dynamos and one made all the more disappointing given that the team were at their strongest for a number of weeks and were well in contention before completely losing their focus and looking for individual score settling. There was a game of hockey to be played against potentially two well matched sides but the Mos gave up their interest in the tie with a string of poor penalties whilst Bristol focussed purely on the hockey.
Man of the match awards went to Ben Clements of the Mos – who faced a remarkable 80 shots on goal – and Steve Osman of the Pitbulls.