The Invicta Dynamos secured a cup semi-final date with the Streatham Redskins and home advantage in the second leg of any future NIHL Southern Cup ties with a 4-2 win against the Chelmsford Chieftains at the SilverBlades on Sunday.
Welcoming back both Tommy Ralph and Steve Osman the Invicta Dynamos injury list was down to four with Taylor Wootton, Callum Fowler, Damien King and James Richardson the remaining absentees. Bristol Pitbulls shot stopper John Dibble iced for the Mos as part of a two-way deal with the NIHL South Division 2 team that will see him provide cover. Meanwhile Chelmsford had 17 players – Darren Brown, Phillips brothers Charlie and Billy, Oliver Baldock and Nathanael Williams missing out.
In the opening frame the hosts started the stronger and were rewarded inside three minutes – Ondrej Zosiak lighting the lamp and rink as he skated the length of the ice evading numerous challenges along the way and lashed the puck low inside the far corner from wide left at 02.04. Ashley Jackson and Haydn Wootton then escaped 2-on-1 but Jackson used his teammate as a decoy and opted to shoot from close left with Ben Clements making the save. Adam Rehak was next to test the netminder – the forward speeding around the outside of his man against the right boards but unable to beat the pads of the shot stopper when reaching the target. However, if the first half of the frame belonged to the Mos then the second half belonged to the Chieftains. The visitors turned the screw with Jake Sylvester denied by John Dibble at point blank range, Juraj Huska tipping the puck wide of the target following a pass to the back post by Liam Chong and Grant Bartlett seeing his rebound attempt from the slot clutched by the Mos new goalie.
Having somewhat fortuitously kept their clean sheet intact by the close of the first, the Dynamos were quickly undone in the second as the Chieftains levelled at 22.46. James Ayling’s backhand sweep from between the circles was palmed down by John Dibble but only into the path of Juraj Huska who tucked in the rebound to make it 1-1. At 25.48 the hosts thought they had restored their lead as Adam Rehak followed up a Haydn Wootton shot but the official washed out the goal having sounded his whistle a second before despite the puck still being in play. It was at this stoppage that Chelmsford’s Grant Bartlett cross checked Rehak and, more than happy to seek revenge for Bartlett’s cowardly blindside sucker punch from the first game of the season in Essex, Rehak tossed the gloves to land punches. The Mos man landed more blows and lifted the jersey over his opponent’s head before the pair wrestled to the ground. As the officials intervened Bartlett continued to pursue Rehak before making gestures to the home crowd that saw him tossed from the tie. The result was a 7 minute Dynamos powerplay but in truth the best opportunity fell the way of the visitors as John Dibble had to be at his athletic best to deny a Juraj Huska breakaway. When the powerplay passed, the Chieftains continued to pile on the pressure and Alex Staples found the post as they came closer and close to a go-ahead goal. However at 35.18, and just 12 seconds after they switched netminders with Sonny Phillips stepping between the pipes, they conceded – Adam Rehak flying down the left channel and blasting the puck high over the goalie’s shoulder into the top far corner for 2-1.
Just as they did in the second, Chelmsford equalised immediately in the third – 40.36 the moment when Lukas Zatopek thundered a shot from the blue line through traffic and into the roof of the target for 2-2. Liam Chong then nearly put the visitors ahead but, having beaten John Dibble, he turned the puck onto the post with the goal at his mercy. Juraj Huska was also frustrated soon after as Dibble’s quick glove hand robbed him from the high slot and those frustrations only increased as the Mos tallied against the run of play at 47.31. Arran Strawson’s lofted clearance was chased down by Adam Rehak who controlled with one touch and rifled low into the far corner of the net from the left circle with another for the 3-2 lead. A Strawson penalty then saw the Chieftains pepper Dibble from the blue line whilst Adam McNicoll would have established a two goal cushion but the pads of Sonny Phillips denied him. The final strike of the night came at 58.56 – Sean Barry in the box as Ashley Jackson sent Nicky Lewis down the right and the Welshman thumped home from the right circle to seal a 4-2 victory.
So it was a second win of the season for the Mos against the Chieftains and a victory that sealed a top placed finish in the cup group, a semi-final date with Streatham in February and home advantage in the second leg. One fan tweet after the buzzer read that the hosts had been outshot but never outfought and that was an apt description with the Chieftains bossing the shot count but the Dynamos working hard to soak up pressure and making their chances matter. Man of the match awards went to Liam Chong of Chelmsford whilst stand-in John Dibble more than impressed on his debut to take the beers for the home team.
Written by Paul Bennett.