The Invicta Dynamos were made to rue missed opportunities on Sunday night as a lone goal from Harrison Lillis was not enough to prevent them slipping to a narow 2-1 loss at home to the Oxford City Stars in the league.
The Mos welcomed back Tommy Ralph and Billy Phillips but were without Mason Webster, Matt Foord and Ben Clements. Owen Rider started between the posts for the hosts with Matthew Croyle getting the nod for the visitors.
After a minute long silence to mark Remembrance Sunday the action got underway but the Mos were down a man almost immediately – a heavy but clean looking open ice hit by Connor Keyes seeing Stanislav Lascek crumple to the ice with an apparent hand injury that then kept him out of the remainder of the tie. Richard Harris, Henry Aiken and Brandon Webster all sought words with Keyes – Webster throwing a single punch that would see him sit a roughing minor.
When play restarted the Stars went on the attack with Jake Williams being denied twice in quick succession by Owen Rider. Down the other end Brandon Webster almost went coast-to-coast but Matthew Croyle made a neat glove save and the netminder then followed that up with the stop of the night to deny Juraj Huska moments later. Huska was in behind with only Croyle to beat and his stick shift seemed to take the goalie out of the play before he flicked towards net for a seemingly inevitable goal but Croyle somehow miraculously recovered and swept the puck off of the line for a highlight reel save.
The Mos did eventually get their breakthrough at 15.29 – Tommy Ralph’s blue line shot hit Harrison Lillis in front and he then controlled before sweeping in on the backhand from close left to make it 1-0.
In the second period the Stars were fortunate not to go two down as Brandon Webster struck the right post with an effort from the high slot and then Richard Harris did the same having twirled his way around the last defenceman wide right with a great 360 spin to work room for the shot before turning onto the upright. The Stars took their luck and then built on – at 26.57 Jake Williams took the puck from the left circle folllowing a faceoff win before skating to the middle and roofing over the glove of Owen Rider whilst his team were shorthanded to make it 1-1.
Moments after the goal the visitors would have had another but from an instinctive leg save by Owen Rider to rob Joshua Florey from right in front. At 28.59 the gloves then came off – Billy Phillips and Griff Eden-Parish became entangled on the ice behind the play with Eden-Parish holding his opponent down. Phillips reacted with a flurry of punches before the officials attempted to intervene. Each player received a two minute minor.
When the action restarted the Oxford net again lived a charmed life thanks to their netminder – this time Brandon Webster’s shot from between the circles being saved by Mathew Croyle and Ashley Jackson’s immediate follow-up deflecting off of the grounded goalie onto the bar. Croyle was in inspired form and ensured his side returned to the changing rooms with the score at 1-1.
In the final frame an early penalty on Henry Aiken gave the Stars a powerplay and they took advantage at 41.46 – Joe Edwards finding the gap between Owen Rider and his near post from the left circle to make it 2-1.
For the remainder of the tie the Mos then attempted to level the game but flustered in front of net despite a number of good chances. Billy Phillips flashed a shot wide with a clear view from close right and Anthony Leone fired into the pads of Matthew Croyle with a one-timer from right in front. The gloves then came off again at 49.25 – Joshua Florey catching Juraj Huska with an awkward hit that saw Phillips immediately ditch the gloves and reign punches upin his opponent. Florey could do little but try to wrestle free from Phillips with the pair eventually falling to the ice having tripped over a dropped stick. Phillips took 5 minutes for fighting and Florey 5 minutes for being punched.
When the action restarted Juraj Huska saw a string of late efforts denied by the remarkable Mattew Croyle who refused to be beaten in the dying moments despite a number of late opportunities.
So it was a home defeat for the Dynamos and one of huge frustrattion given they had more than enough opportunities in front of net to get the job done. Matthew Croyle put in an inspired display for the visitors and was deservedly their man of the match whilst Owen Rider took the honours for the hosts with a very solid showing.
Written by Paul Bennett.