The Invicta Dynamos topped the NIHL South Division 1 come the close of play on Sunday as goals from Callum Fowler, Ashley Jackson and Adam McNicoll guided the side to a hard fought 3-1 win against a gritty Milton Keynes Thunder.
Minus brothers Taylor and Bailey Wootton and forward Steve Osman the Mos iced 19 players against the Thunder with Adam McNicoll making his first return to the SilverBlades since re-signing and Callum Fowler and Ashley Jackson back in the side after missing Saturday’s trip to Streatham. They faced a 15 man Milton Keynes who were determined to make their mark in Gillingham and perhaps enjoyed the better of a scrappy opening frame. Damien King was on hand to turn away a Ross Bowers wrist shot from the high slot before Jamie Line was found all alone right in front but King stood tall and left him little to aim at. Down the other end Callum Fowler weaved his way through the visiting defence for a sight of target but fired wide of David Wride’s net before Line again sped clear in the right channel only for the netminder to stop him once more. A trade of penalties then stunted both teams in front of goal before the buzzer brought an end to a largely sloppy opening 20 minutes.
Despite the intermission the second period began in a similar vein – Callum Fowler tested David Wride as he used the defenceman as a screen and shot towards the near post from the right circle whilst Paul Gore really should have tallied at the other end after Ross Bowers served the puck on the platter in the crease from behind the target but Damien King blocked with the pads. The turning point of the tie then came at the halfway point – Harrison Goode and Ross Bowers being sent to the box with minors within 15 seconds of each other to give the hosts a prolonged two man advantage that they dutifully capitalised on. At 30.43 Arran Strawson’s blue line pass to the left post was greeted by Callum Fowler who swept over the line to make it 1-0 – the puck slipping through a gap in the back of the net causing the Thunder to claim no goal. They would be further upset at 31.19 – Fowler the architect this time as he rounded the frame and fired towards the crease where Adam McNicoll swatted past Wride at the second attempt for 2-0. The Mos were now dominant and Brad Gutridge almost added a third but Wride athletically scrambled across his crease to prevent the back post tap-in whilst Ashley Jackson was also denied from the slot.
In the final frame another Ashley Jackson snapshot had David Wride juggling the puck in a frantic effort to keep the forward at bay whilst Adam Rehak was just inches off target with a backhand wrister from close right. It was perhaps against the run of play then that the Thunder halved the deficit with a well worked strike – Alex Whyte feeding Ross Bowers down the left channel and then frantically speeding towards the slot to complete the one-two and fire emphatically over Damien King for 2-1 at 45.38. With the tie back in the balance tensions then spilled over at 46.10 – Harrison Lillis hit late by James Clarke prompting Joshua Condren to jump in and cross check the MK number 51. Seeing red, Ryan Coffey then charged in from behind and, with both hands on his stick, cross checked Condren to the back of the neck with a potential neck breaker that left Condren needing hospital checks post game. The inevitable line brawl followed with Gutridge and Jarvis Mewett both wanting to tackle Coffey whilst Harrison Lillis briefly grappled with Clarke. When order was restored Coffey was chucked from the tie with 2+2 for roughing and a match penalty for cross checking. Brad Gutridge was given 2+2 for roughing. After the restart the Dynamos then sealed the win at 52.51 – Ashley Jackson breaking clear down the right wing and, using Adam McNicoll’s skate to the crease as a decoy, lashing low inside the near post before Wride had a chance to set himself. Callum Fowler’s goal celebration in the direction of Nidal Phillips earned him a 2 minute misconduct putting the hosts under pressure late on but Damien King stood firm as Milton Keynes pushed for a comeback in the closing minutes.
So it was a gritty win for the Dynamos against a Thunder team likely to cause upsets this season. The performance was some way short of the team’s dazzling best but the two points carried the Mos to the NIHL South Division 1’s summit and completed a four point weekend. Man of the match awards went to both goalies – David Wride and Damien King picking up the refreshments post game after solid displays.
Written by Paul Bennett.