Doubles from Ondrej Zosiak and Bailey Wootton, as well as goals from Nicky Lewis, Jacob Ranson and Eriks Ozollapa, saw the Invicta Dynamos begin their bid to retain the NIHL Southern Cup with a 7-4 victory over the London Raiders.
The opening period belonged to the Dynamos as London repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with minor penalties allowing the hosts the extra space to wreak havoc in front of net. The first of these came at 07.53 when David Oliver fired over the glass for delay of the game and the Mos tallied at 09.14 for the 1-0 lead. Andy Henderson’s shot from the right boards was padded back to Bailey Wootton close right who stabbed in at the near post for the opener. Soon after Michal Oravec was called for clipping and a mistake on the Raiders bench saw Marek Nahlik ice whilst his fellow import teammate was in the box leading to another penalty and a 5-on-3. At 10.04 the hosts took advantage – Ondrej Zosiak drilling a shot home from the blue line beyond an unsighted Michael Gray for the 2-0 edge. Ill-discipline continued to prove the undoing of the visitors and when David Oliver was penalised for holding and Bailey Chittock for charging the Dynamos were two men up again – this time Nicky Lewis sweeping towards the back post where a waiting Wootton took advantage to make it 3-0 with his second of the night. The Raiders were now a victim of their own frustration and none more so than netminder Michael Gray who repeatedly took swipes at former teammate Jacob Ranson behind the play and ultimately drew a misconduct penalty before the period was out.
3-0 down London needed the break when it came but they fell further behind shortly after the restart as Adam McNicoll won the draw in the final third and Eriks Ozollapa seized possession in the right circle and fired in off the legs of David Oliver for four at 24.13. Soon after the visitors could have replied but Mark McGill denied Frankie Harvey twice at point blank range to keep them off the scoreboard. At 25.42 tempers then flared as a check from Mason Webster caught Joshua Condren in the midriff with the young forward staying down and needing assistance off the ice. Brad Gutridge took issue with the check and dropped the gloves to dance with Webster – the Invicta man landing the first blows but Webster finishing the stronger to take the win. When play restarted Nicky Lewis was halted on the breakaway by a fine Michael Gray glove save before the visitors managed a late rally that put them within touching distance. At 37.03 Liam Chong fed Michal Oravec on the left boards who skipped in from the wing and fired beyond Mark McGill to make it 4-1. At 39.39 it was then 4-2 – the Mos caught up the ice as Marek Nahlik skated into the final third, skipped around the dive of McGill and swept over the line to halve the deficit.
With the Raiders playing their way back into the game at the close of the second the Dynamos wanted a good start in the third to secure the win and they got exactly that with two goals in a minute. The first of the pair came at 40.41 – Adam McNicoll struggling to get his shot away from right in front but Jacob Ranson taking control and bundling over the line for 5-2. At 40.59 the Mos had a scrappy sixth – Nicky Lewis banking the puck in off the legs of Michael Gray from just left of the target to restore the four goal cushion. The early strikes ruffled the Raiders again and Mason Webster near enough ended his involvement in the tie when he was given 2+10 for checking from behind at 43.28. Adam McNicoll and Michal Oravec then briefly clashed in a tussle for the puck – each receiving minors as the game continued to heat up. At 45.24 the Mos were back on the scoreboard – Ondrej Zosiak unleashing another slapshot from the blue line that flew through traffic and into the twine for 7-2. This signalled the end of the game for Michal Gray who tapped out allowing former Dynamo Davey Jackson to enter the fray. Jackson then watched as his team notched twice to cut the deficit to three. At 46.35 Marek Nahlik launched a wrist shot into the roof of the net from the blue line with Mark McGill’s view masked by the sizeable David Oliver in front. Come 50.57 it was 7-4 – Robert Veares finding Frankie Harvey at the back of the left circle and the forward expertly picking out the top far corner with the final strike of the night. The Mos did have chances to add to their lead but netminder Jackson stopped an Ozollapa breakaway and then had the posts to thank for keeping the Latvian at bay late on.
So it was a 7-4 victory for the Dynamos that saw them begin their cup campaign in perfect fashion against a bad tempered Raiders. The Mos allowed the visitors to repeatedly make their way to the box without retaliation and instead made it count on the scoreboard to secure the points. Man of the match awards went to Frankie Harvey of the visitors whilst Ondrej Zosiak claimed the honours for the hosts.