It was a night to forget for the Invicta Dynamos on Saturday as a disappointing display saw them succumb to a heavy 9-3 home defeat at the hands of the Chelmsford Chieftains in the NIHL South Division 1.
Chasing two of the three points that would secure the league title the Chieftains arrived in Kent at full strength with 19 players ready for the puck drop. Despite missing Damien King, Haydn Wootton, Joshua Condren and Ashley Jackson the Mos also had 19 with forward Scott Bailey making his home debut. John Dibble and Sonny Phillips started in the nets.
Despite a record of three wins, a draw and a single defeat in match-ups with Chelmsford so far in 2016/17 the Mos were second best from the off with the tone set as early as 01.03 – the home defence taking a power nap as Grant Bartlett was allowed to skate across the crease and take two shots on John Dibble from point blank range with the second beating the pads for 1-0. A sloppy line change then gifted the visitors a powerplay as the hosts were called for too many men and defenceman Lukas Zatopek made it count with a thumping drive over the netminder from back on the blue line that doubled the lead. By 09.49 the Chieftains were already disappearing out of sight – the Dynamos again the architects of their own downfall as Ondrej Zosiak’s clearance fell straight to Anthony Leone who centred for Cameron Bartlett – Bartlett joining his twin on the score sheet from between the faceoff circles. Callum Fowler attempted to eat into the deficit as he danced his way to net close left and forced a pad save from Sonny Phillips and the Mos finally mustered a reply at 16.49 – the captain beating his man left of the target and passing to the back post where the on-rushing Steve Osman could not miss. However less than a minute later the puck was once again in the home goal – from the right corner Juraj Huska found Jake Sylvester left completely unmarked in the right circle and he rifled beyond John Dibble for 4-1.
In the second period an early boarding call on Adam Rehak and a delay of the game minor on Tommy Ralph gifted Chelmsford 1 minute 41 of a 5-on-3 and they capitalised inside 10 seconds – Juraj Huska put under no pressure in the high slot and the import dispatching a trademark slapshot over John Dibble for five at 24.37. Five could have been six but Dibble then denied Daniel Hammond’s breakaway before yet another penalty would see the hosts undone again. With Tommy Ralph in the box for tripping Cameron Bartlett found Anthony Leone in the right channel who switched across the crease where Grant Bartlett lifted over the goalie on the backhand for a sixth at 35.53 that was all too easy. The strike saw John Dibble replaced in net by James Richardson though in truth the netminder shouldered no responsibility for the hefty deficit having been afforded no protection. Richardson’s first act was to see his side tally their second – Brandon Ayliffe sitting for tripping as Scott Bailey forced a mistake from Darren Brown allowing Callum Fowler to finish beyond Sonny Phillips from right in front at 39.27. 12 seconds later the visitors answered – Cameron Bartlett’s shot from the high slot deflecting straight into the path of Grant Bartlett who stick handled around the goalie for 7-2 at 39.39.
In the final frame the Mos had only pride to play for and they hit back quickly to cut the deficit to 7-3 – from the right wing Callum Fowler picked out Steve Osman in the right circle and he dispatched through the legs of Sonny Phillips at 42.53. Adam Rehak came close to another as he skated across the crease and tested the netminder with a backhand but the goalie watched him all the way and kept him at bay. The momentum looked to be further with the home side as Callum Wells was penalised for delay of game but in a goal that summarised the night the Chieftains notched whilst shorthanded. At 46.57 Juraj Huska and Daniel Hammond escaped on a 2-on-1 counter but the Slovak needed no assistance as his slapshot found the 5-hole of James Richardson for 8-3. In response Tommy Ralph rattled the post from the blue line before the majority of time remaining passed by without incident. That was until a Fowler penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct at 57.53 with Chelmsford again making the most of the powerplay – from behind the net Oliver Baldock finding Juraj Huska close left and the import wrong footed Mason Webster before slotting beyond Richardson to seal the 9-3 rout.
So it was emphatic defeat for the Dynamos who were not at the races from puck drop to final buzzer. Whilst the Chieftains were slick and unquestionably worthy of the win the hosts made their task easier by repeatedly giving up prime shooting territory and offering little resistance despite having proven more than a match for the opponents in previous meetings. Man of the match awards went to hat-trick hero Grant Bartlett of Chelmsford whilst Steve Osman’s two goals saw him take the spoils for the Mos.
Written by Paul Bennett.