546 days after last taking to the ice, the Invicta Dynamos finally returned to action on Saturday with a preseason challenge game defeat at the hands of the Slough Jets. Goals from young debutant Taylor Chard and Player-Coach Anthony Leone gave the home crowd something to cheer in front of a loud crowd at Planet Ice, Gillingham.
The Dynamos were without imports Juraj Huska and Tomas Banovsky, forward Ashley Jackson and netminder Zachary Grandy-Smith whilst Ross Cowan secured a late switch to the opponents in the days before the game following a change to his personal circumstances. Taylor Chard, son of Dynamos legend Phil Chard, stepped up from the juniors.
In the opening period the Mos broke the deadlock at 08.26 – from the left boards Tom Davis centred for Anthony Leone in the slot and his shot struck the foot of the far post before youngster Taylor Chard turned in the rebound for a debut goal.
The Jets came close to levelling twice through Harry Harcup – first when his drive from the right bounced up off of Ben Clements and then landed agonisingly on top of the net and second when he was found alone close right and forced the netminder into a quick leg save. Down the other end Tom Davis found prime shooting territory on the edge of the crease before then finding goalie Bret Shepherd.
At 19.08 tempers flared – Timo Lindgren with a high hit on Taylor Chard that prompted an immediate reaction from Brandon Webster who jumped in minus his gloves to deal out instant retribution. Lindgren would sit 5 for boarding and Webster 5 for fighting.
In the second frame the Jets were on the front foot from the off with Daniel Rose striking the post early on before the equaliser came at 21.57. On the powerplay, Conor Redmond’s cross ice pass found Tyton Cathcart in space on the back of the right circle and he rifled beyond an unsighted Ben Clements for 1-1.
At 26.01 the visitors took the lead – Harrison Lillis having his pocket picked on his own blue line and Jacob Soper finding Christian Mohr between the circles who dispatched into the top left corner for 2-1. It could have been more but Ben Clements then denied William Dobbe when he escaped in behind.
Tempers flared again at 28.31 – Tom Davis snapping at a loose puck on the edge of the crease whilst Bret Shepherd attempted to cover leading to a coming together involving all the players. Henry Aiken, Tom Davis, Luke Smital and Thomas Banner each picked up rouching minors. When play restarted Anthony Leone thought he had an equaliser with his one-timer to the far post from inside the left circle that was saved by Shepherd and his team would actually then full further behind at 39.33 as the Jets notched a third. Luke Smital sent Daniel Rose down the right channel into the offensive zone and he tucked inside the left post from the right circle for 3-1.
In the final period Owen Rider replaced Ben Clements in net and was immediately called into action having to thwart Bradley Hildreth from between the circles. Down the other end Brandon Webster struck the bar from behind the left faceoff dot before more rough stuff followed. Tom Davis and Solomon Smith exchanged a few hits before squaring up to each other. Davis offered the bout but Solomon opted to decline. Henry Aiken then secured a misconduct for his verbals during the process.
Following the restart Anthony Leone pulled the Mos back within one whilst shorthanded when blue liner Harriyan Ross gifted him possession right in front of net and he made no mistake with the chance – tucking inside the bottom left corner for 3-2 at 50.51. Hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed however – Bradley Hildreth finding Harry Harcup close left who swept over the reach of Owen Rider at the second attempt at 52.48.
So it was a 4-2 home defeat for the Mos but it was time in the legs and an opportunity for the players to get reacquainted with a number of big names still to return to the line-up. After the lengthy break it was just a positive experience to have fans together again in Gillingham. Part two of the double header challenge game weekend would follow in Slough on Sunday.
Written by Paul Bennett.