It was a disappointing Halloween night for the Invicta Dynamos who only netted once through Eriks Ozollapa and were held to a 1-1 draw by the Cardiff NIHL Devils in the NIHL South Division 1 at the SilverBlades on Saturday.
The Dynamos welcomed debutant netminder Damien King and returning forward Steve Osman to their line-up for the first time giving them a roster of 19 and a considerable edge over Cardiff’s travelling contingent of just 13 players. However that advantage was far from evident in a poor quality opening frame – the first real test for visiting shot stopper Michael Crisp coming courtesy of Osman in the slot but the Devils’ goalie pushing to safety over the bar. The highlight of the period then followed at 12.08 – Osman winning a faceoff in the final third and Eriks Ozollapa instinctively shooting first time from the inside edge of the left circle to catch Crisp unaware and send the puck into the bottom far corner for 1-0. The Mos should have built on their lead but instead Cardiff finished the frame by coming close to cancelling it – Harrison Lillis losing his footing allowing the Devils a 2-on-1 counter but Tamas Elias failing to beat Damien King from close left. Just moments later Lillis was again beaten – this time by an unfortunate bounce – and Jonathan Nash sped through on the breakaway but his wrist shot caught the foot of the right post and teasingly trickled along the goal line before being moved to safety by a grateful Lillis now back in his position.
Both teams had struggled to create genuine scoring opportunities in the first and neither fared better in a second that would see the scoreboard remain unaltered. Ondrej Zosiak’s blue line drive was eaten up by Michael Crisp who also made light work of Andy Henderson’s thump from the back of the left circle. The best opportunity fell to Conor Redmond – Bailey Wootton’s diagonal finding him unmarked close left and Redmond’s backhand slipping through the 5-hole of Crisp who quickly reacted by shutting his legs together to clamp the puck on the goal line behind him. It was a rare chance as the shortbenched Devils proved effective at breaking up nearly every play that entered their zone but they came no closer to an equaliser – Damien King almost a spectator throughout the second period.
In the final frame Eriks Ozollapa came close to bringing an end to the goal drought as he weaved his way between Harri Taylor and Joe Morris but he was unable to beat Michael Crisp at his near post from close left. Nicky Lewis faced a similar problem from the right circle as the Dynamos struggled to carve out an opening and were then wasteful when they did. Having failed to add to their tally a penalty to Nicky Lewis midway through the frame then saw the momentum briefly change ends. Owen Bradshaw forced Damien King into action from the slot before a tussle for possession in the right circle between Arran Strawson and Jonathan Nash saw the puck fly off the foot of the near post. At 55.22 the visitors had their reward – Thomas Stuart-Dant skipping in from the right boards and using his teammate in front of net as a screen as he picked out the top far corner to make it 1-1. The strike gave the Dynamos a greater sense of urgency but they were still unable to beat Crisp for a second time with the clock now against them. Ozollapa was in the clear close left but Cardiff’s netminder gave him little to aim at and made the save whilst Osman saw a late wrister from the back of the left circle palmed to safety. Ultimately the buzzer would sound bringing an end to a drab game where the Mos had just not done enough and the score finished 1-1.
So it was points dropped by the Dynamos who would surely have expected to take two against a Cardiff outfit that only had three to their name all season and travelled with just 13 players. The visitors have to be commended for their work rate and stifling game play in the conditions but the Mos will ultimately be disappointed with the outcome. Man of the match honours went to Damien King – the one plus for the hosts with the shot stopper looking assured at his new club.
Written by Paul Bennett