Goals from Jaroslav Cesky and Tommy Ralph were not enough to spare the Dynamos defeat as they were edged out 5-2 at home to the London Raiders in a physical clash that also saw both Cesky and Mason Webster drop the gloves.
On home ice the Mos had a roster of 17 – Ashley Jackson, Sebastian Downing and Tom Long the absentees but Mustangs forward and former Invicta junior Jake Stedman stepping up for a first Dynamos appearance. The Raiders numbered 20 and were full strength but for the unavailable Callum Wells. Damien King and Michael Gray were the starting netminders.
The opening period saw early chances at both ends – Marek Nahlik sweeping wide of the far post when put clear close right whilst Tommy Ralph smashed a blue line pile driver through traffic only for Michael Gray to get a glove behind it. At 07.08 the visitors were then the recipients of a controversial penalty shot – Juraj Huska put on the breakaway but losing out to the challenge of Scott Bailey before falling to the ice prompting referee Richard Belfitt to signal for the shot much to the discontent of the home bench. However Damien King ensured tempers cooled quickly as he failed to be duped by Huska’s quick stickwork and saved with the pads to keep the score at 0-0.
When the action restarted Steve Osman forced an excellent stop from Michael Gray who propelled himself across his crease to prevent the forward notching with a one-timer at point blank range. However Gray’s resistance was up at 12.33 – Scott Bailey carrying the play in to the final third down the left channel before a backhand pass to the slot where the on-rushing Jaroslav Cesky fired home. The Mos then almost doubled their lead with a carbon copy of the strike – this time George Hoang centring from the left wing but Louis Colvin unable to convert at the back stick with the netminder scrambling. London’s goalie looked to be in trouble a minute from the buzzer as his leg gave way causing him to drop to the ice behind the play but, after some brief treatment, he made the decision to battle on.
In the second period Michael Gray continued to be a talking point as he gloved the face of Mason Webster and then skated away when the Mos man pushed him in response – both parties receiving roughing minors. At 23.56 the visitors then tallied to level – from behind the net Marek Nahlik swept to the crease where Tom Davis reacted faster than Brandon Webster to fire inside the right post with one touch for 1-1. However a holding minor on Oliver Baldock saw the hosts retake the lead on the powerplay – 26.46 the moment when Tommy Ralph drilled a one-timer from the blue line over the reach of Gray with pinpoint accuracy to make it 2-1.
At 29.09 the gloves then came off – Jake Stedman doing a great job of pinning Alan Lack to the boards despite having lost his stick and the London man reacting with a shove off the puck that sent his opponent to the ice. Pitchley was called for roughing but on his way to the box he exchanged words with Mason Webster before charging past the linesman and teammate Matt Turner to throw a punch. His first blow was also his last as Webster then dealt with him comprehensively by landing a number of heavy fists to ground Pitchley and score the win. Pitchley received a further 2+2 for fighting and Webster 2 for holding, 2 for instigating and 2+2 for fighting.
When play began again Tommy Ralph was next to the box for hooking and the Raiders tallied on the powerplay to make it 2-2. At 32.09 Oliver Baldock circled behind the net before finding Jake Sylvester back on the blue line and his slapshot nestled in the top far corner to level the tie. Come 34.45 the away side then led for the first time – Alan Lack’s wrist shot to the back post from the right circle was blocked by the pads of Damien King but Marek Nahlik swatted in the rebound point blank left for 3-2.
The Mos fell into further trouble at 36.46 when George Hoang jostled with Sean Barry for position a metre from the puck as they both raced for possession resulting in a call for interference. The reaction of the home bench then drew a bench minor resulting in a 2 minute 5-on-3 powerplay for London but the hosts battled bravely and soaked up the pressure to finish the frame without giving up any further goals.
In the final period Alan Lack had an early chance to convert as he was found in the high slot with an empty net to shoot at, as Damien King was wrongfooted, but Ross Connolly threw himself in front of the puck to deny a certain goal. The visitors would be 4-2 up at 44.17 though – Lack a tad fortunate as his relatively tame effort from the left circle bound for the netminder’s pads took a hefty deflection off Tommy Ralph’s grounded stick before and finding the near corner for the two goal edge.
As the Mos chased the game they began to look more disjointed allowing London to dominate the remainder of the tie. Matt Turner fired into the glove of Damien King from close right before the victors tallied the last of the night at 53.15 – Alan Lack again involved as he found Juraj Huska right in front and he picked out the bottom far corner from close range to seal a 5-2 victory.
All that remained was for one final bout – Jaroslav Cesky reacting to a slash on his hand by John Connolly with a push behind the play that knocked the D-man from his feet. Both players then ditched the gloves and helmets to go at it – Connolly landing a number of early blows but Cesky answering strongly and pulling the shirt over his opponent’s head before a wrestling match was halted by the intervening linesmen.
So it was a defeat for the Dynamos who looked more than a match for their opponents for half the tie but began to struggle as they were forced to chase the tie though through no lack of effort. Man of the match awards went to Alan Lack of the visitors and Damien King of the home side.
Written by Paul Bennett.