The Invicta Dynamos suffered a heart-breaking 4-3 overtime loss to the Bristol Pitbulls in Gillingham on Saturday despite a hat-trick from player-coach Anthony Leone but it was a result that secured them a point in the NIHL South Division 1.
The Mos had 14 players coming into the tie and were without the newly suspended Mason Webster whilst the visitors travelled with a team of 18. Ben Clements and John Dibble were the starting netminders.
In the opening frame the away side had a good early chance as Loris Taylor danced around Tom Davis to go clear close left but Ben Clements denied him the opener. Down the other end John Dibble was then called upon to deny a Toma s Banovsky one-timer from between the circles which he turned away competently. Spectators would not be kept waiting too long for the first goal though – at 06.46 Davis sent a slapshot at net from the right side of the blue line and Anthony Leone redirected in front to open the scoring.
The teams then traded chances for the remainder of the period but without any further success. Olly Shone was thwarted by Ben Clements when found clear right in front whilst Juraj Huska fired the puck onto the crossbar with a wrist shot from the left circle.
In the second frame Bristol made the early running with Joshua Shaw testing Ben Clements from close right and then again from the back of the right circle without success and they were made to pay for their lack of clinical finishing as the Mos then tallied their second at 25.22. Anthony Leone claimed his second of the night after exchanging a neat one-two with Brandon Wesbter down the right channel that ended with Leone flicking Webster’s diagonal through the legs of John Dibble from close right for 2-0.
Immediately after the goal Webster had a glorious chance of his own when he was put clear close left but the netminder reacted well to keep him at bay. Bristol attempted to muster a reply but continued to find Ben Clements in defiant mood – the goalie stopping Loris Taylor twice from between the circles. The game then stepped up a notch in terms of physicality – Sam Smith trying to go the long way around Harrison Lillis and ending up squashed against the boards. Smith needed a breather but the referee saw nothing wrong with the play. Moments later Lillis was then victim of a victim of a check from behind by Tamas Elias in the corner that could have been dangerous – Lillis immediately rose to his feet and grabbed his man but avoided throwing punches following recent punishments by the league for players fighting ‘unwilling’ opponents. Elias received a minor penalty. Just moments later Juraj Huska and Jason Warren chased a puck into the same corner with Warren pushing the Slovak into the boards from behind. Huska was given a dubious two minutes for interference whilst Warren would sit a pair for charging.
When play restarted Arran Strawson was denied when he had a clear shot from the left circle before, down the other end, Mason Lipsey swept a backhand shot into the chest of Ben Clements from right in front.
Having been frustrated for much of the night, the Pitbulls finally hit back early in the final period – at 43.18 a puck got away from Arran Strawson behind his own net allowing Loris Taylor to feed Steve Osman right in front who converted with one touch to cut the deficit to 2-1. The strike prompted Bristol to pile on the pressure and it soon told – at 49.45 the visitors levelled when Olly Shone and Taylor escaped 2-on-1 and Shone’s reverse pass teed up his teammate to finish through the legs of the goalie from the left circle for 2-2.
The turnaround was then complete at 52.03 – the visitors securing another odd man rush that ended with Jason Warren picking his spot and expertly sending a wrist shot over the shoulder of Ben Clements and just inside the near post for the 3-2 lead. Short of dropping their heads, the hosts looked for a way back into a tie that had just been taken away from them and the reward came at 56.16 – Anthony Leone catching John Dibble cold with a shot from a tight angle close right that slipped through the pads of the unprepared netminder for 3-3.
With time winding down the physicality rose another notch as Tamas Elias – earlier guilty of checking from behind – was on the receiving end of a hard hit by Brandon Wesbter that forced him into the plexi but was adjudged to be clean. Elias was grounded for a brief spell but would slowly return to his feet. The Mos did suffer controversial penalty trouble soon after though – Tomas Banovsky and Michael Hargreaves chasing down a loose puck with Hargreaves holding his opponent’s stick all the way until the Slovak grew frustrated and pushed him to the ice. Hargreaves went unpunished whilst Banovsky was called for charging. Neither team could claim a last gasp winner so the tie went into overtime with the import still sat in the box.
The Dynamos did well to kill off what remained of Tomas Banovsky’s penalty at the start of overtime with Ben Clements needed to thwart Mason Lipsey when he had the game on his stick right in front but the netminder robbed him of the winner. However the Pitbulls did secure the victory at 62.28 – Sam Smith cutting off Tomas Banovsky’s attempted long pass up the ice to go one-on-one, then skipping around the Slovak and sweeping a wrist shot into the top right corner for the 4-3 win.
So it was heartbreak for the Mos who were denied a much needed win in the most dramatic way. It had been an even game with the final result almost a coin toss but at least the hosts secured a point for taking the tie to overtime. Man of the match awards went to hat-trick hero Anthony Leone and Bristol’s Sam Smith.