Two goals from Latvian Eriks Ozollapa powered the Dynamos to their third consecutive NIHL South Division 1 victory as they overcame the Wightlink Raiders 2-1 at the SilverBlades Gillingham on Sunday.
The Mos defence lacked the experience of injured pair Adam McNicoll and Arran Strawson and netminder Mark McGill was forced into action almost instantly – Jaroslav Cesky wasteful as he drilled a slapshot straight at the goalie from his position in the slot. It was to be one of very few clear cut chances in a scrappy first – the Mos unable to make an early powerplay count with Ondrej Zosiak testing Matt Colclough from the boards before McGill intercepted Alexander Sampford’s pass to the back stick where the on-rushing Cesky was waiting to tap home. Eventually the deadlock was broken at 14.03 – Kieran Annis too casual behind his own net allowing Eriks Ozollapa to take control and bank in off the pads of Colclough from tight right to make it 1-0. The Raiders then thought they had answered instantly – the whistle sounding for penalties on Harrison Lillis and Danny Ingoldsby, who were tying each other up against the boards, just before Jeremy Cornish thumped a slapshot into the twine from the left circle. Ben Paynter attempted to celebrate regardless in the hope the strike might be awarded but his coach’s effort was washed out leaving the score at 1-0 after one.
After a low-key opening frame the second period was given a kick start as Jeremy Cornish landed a hit on Eriks Ozollapa that left the Latvian holding his head and needing attention. Ever the pantomime villain, Cornish evaded a penalty for a check that had actually caught the back of his opponent who turned just before the clash but was still the subject of boos from the vociferous home support. Harrison Lillis made his way across to the Canadian to express his opinion but declined an offer to dance against his much taller counterpart. When play restarted Bailey Wootton was then unable to beat Matt Colclough from close left whilst veteran Grant Baxter fired wide of the far post from a good position in the slot. Down the other end Jaroslav Cesky tested the glove reactions of Mark McGill whilst Craig Tribe escaped with only the goalie to beat but failed to fool the shot stopper with his shift onto the backhand. Just as it seemed neither side would tally in the second, a tripping penalty to Jordon Gregory would then prove costly in the final minute – Eriks Ozollapa claiming a loose puck in the neutral zone, speeding around the outside of defenceman Nick Compton to go in on goal and flashing beyond the reach of Colclough at his near post for 2-0 at 39.01.
A much improved middle period was followed by an equally entertaining third – Joshua Condren almost netting with a high shot from the right circle that caught the shoulder of Matt Colclough and fell safe. Colclough is always a stubborn customer when visiting Gillingham and he did equally well moments later to rob Eriks Ozollapa of a hat-trick with a quick glove save that grasped a puck destined for the top far corner. The best of the chances then fell to Nicky Lewis who was found with plenty of time and space close left but the shot stopper stood tall leaving him little to aim at and he failed to take advantage. In response Daniel Rose was given possession for the Raiders right in front but his slapshot was brilliantly kept at bay by Mark McGill to preserve the two goal edge. With time now firmly against them the visitors rolled the dice late on by pulling Matt Colclough from the net and they made it count at 58.19 – Craig Tribe’s backhand sweep from the left circle flying through impossible traffic and into the bottom far corner to make it 2-1. They inevitably summoned Colclough from his crease again in the dying seconds but this time the Mos held firm to make it three wins from three in the NIHL South’s top tier.
So it was a solid home win for the Dynamos secured by some resilient defensive work and two solo strikes from the ever impressive Eriks Ozollapa. The Mos worked tirelessly to protect the middle ground in front of net and frustrated their opponents as a result whilst snatching two goals at the other end to deservedly take the two points. Man of the match awards went to Alexander Sampford of the Raiders whilst a mature and composed performance from Harrison Lillis in the absence of Adam McNicoll and Arran Strawson saw him take the spoils for the Dynamos.