The Invicta Dynamos were minutes away from tumbling league leaders and former EPL side the Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday but eventually lost out on penalty shots after goals from Jaroslav Cesky and Scott Bailey had put the visitors on the brink of defeat.
The Mos welcomed back Steve Osman to Planet Ice, Gillingham whilst import Jaroslav Cesky made his home debut. Justin Robinson and Tom Long continued to miss out. Damien King started in net for the hosts whilst his brother Euan was his opposite number for the Phantoms.
The opening period was a slightly scrappy affair but that suited the Dynamos when faced with the division’s biggest scorers. At 06.31 came a moment of quality – Ryan Morgan feeding Jaroslav Cesky entering the final third and he side stepped the defenceman to find space close left before roofing over Euan King for the 1-0 lead.
Still on the front foot, George Hoang hammered a one-timer at goal from the blue line forcing the Phantom’s netminder into a swift pad save before Ondrej Zosiak went coast-to-coast by driving his way through the middle but his effort on goal was just wide of the target. Down the other end Peterborough’s passing game was stuttering but they grew into the tie as the minutes passed – Nathan Salem having three swats at the puck after being found point blank right but finding Damien King’s pads firmly in his path. Even when Salem did beat the netminder moments later he was still left frustrated – the forward’s drive from the high slot clattering the underside of the bar and bouncing clear.
Eventually, at 17.40, the Mos were undone – Scott Robson’s blue line drive forced the Dynamos goalie over to his near post to make a pad save allowing Owen Griffiths to scoop up the rebound and steer in to tie the game at 1-1. There the score remained after 20 minutes in a fairly even opening third.
In the second period the Phantoms could have converted early as Owen Griffiths found Darius Pliskauskas at the back post but Damien King shifted across his crease quickly to make the save. It was a stop that looked even more valuable at 22.48 as the hosts then took the lead – Callum Fowler deserved all the credit as he chased down a long clearance whilst all his line-mates went for a change before beating his man behind the net and flicking to the slot where the on-rushing Scott Bailey swept in low on the spin to make it 2-1.
Immediately after a slightly fortuitous bounce set Jaroslav Cesky on the breakaway but the import’s slapshot was off the shoulder of Euan King and wide. In reply Tom Norton sent a venomous drive into the pads of the Mos goalie before the hosts created two more good chances. Joshua Condren was the architect both times – his drop pass teeing up Tommy Ralph’s wrist shot from the right circle that was bound for the top near corner but for Euan King palming wide before Condren later found Brandon Webster with a clear view high slot but his effort was off the foot of the upright.
After being in danger of falling further behind the Phantoms then finished the frame strongly and were unfortunate not to level. Ales Padelek’s one-timer from between the circles needed an athletic dive from Damien King to deny him whilst Nathan Pollard was hugely unlucky as his backhand flick from the edge of the crease caught the underside of the bar and bounced clear.
The final regulation period was largely one way traffic as the Dynamos attempted to deny wave after wave of Peterborough onslaughts. Nathan Salem tried to stick handle around Damien King on the edge of the crease but was denied whilst Leigh Jamieson’s shot on the turn from between the circles was also blocked by the netminder. The Mos still looked dangerous when countering at speed and Scott Bailey almost doubled his tally for the night but his 5-hole bound effort was thwarted as Euan King jammed his pads together to make the save.
At 53.26, and less than 7 minutes from a fairy-tale victory, the hosts finally buckled – Damien King did brilliantly to get anything on Leigh Jamieson’s one-timer to the back post from close left but import Darius Pliskauskas was first to the rebound right of the target and he swept in for 2-2. Late on both teams then had chances to win the tie but Callum Fowler came closest – the forward skating across the crease to commit the netminder but sending the shot onto metal to leave the game all square after 60 minutes.
Sent to overtime the Phantoms went back on the charge and they had the two best chances in the sudden death period – Ales Padelek unable to beat the glove of Damien King from close left whilst under pressure from Ondrej Zosiak and Nathan Salem’s attempt to beat the goalie with a quick stick shift whilst clean through also proving unsuccessful.
The tie would go to penalty shots then and after Callum Fowler’s deke was read by Euan King to deny the Mos, Owen Griffiths attempted to trick Damien King but tricked himself and failed to get a shot off leaving it goalless after round one. Next up Jaroslav Cesky attempted an emergency stop and shot to the 5-hole that was denied before Darius Pliskauskas netted for the Phantoms by shifting left and firing over Damien King. All the pressure was now on Ashley Jackson but his low shot to the bottom left corner was halted by Euan King to signal victory for visiting Peterborough.
So there was no storybook ending for the Dynamos but the hosts still picked up a point having taken the time beyond 60 minutes. In truth it was a fantastic battling performance worthy of praise despite the final outcome – the Mos written off by many before the tie with the league leaders and former EPL big boys. Man of the match awards went to Owen Griffiths of the Phantoms whilst Damien King rightly took the spoils for the Dynamos.
Written by Paul Bennett.