It was a night to remember in Milton Keynes as the Invicta Dynamos overcame playing 18 minutes without a goalie due to equipment issues to claim a remarkable 6-2 victory and complete a four-point weekend.
Whilst you might often hear stories about a team turning-up in the wrong kit or the star player stuck in traffic, the Dynamos had to make do guarding an empty net for almost 19 minutes of the first period on Sunday due to a mix-up with netminder equipment behind the scenes. As a result, shot stopper Damien King had to watch from the side-lines whilst his gear was rushed-up the M1. With the opposition seemingly not offering spare netminder kit or there being no delay in the start time, Invicta Coach Kevin Parrish, having no-back-up netminder, sent his side out to defend the empty frame. The Dynamos adopted what could be best described as a sweeper-keeper system, with the likes of Harrison Lillis and Elliott Dewey taking the role of hovering behind the D-men and acting as the last line of defence. Dewey did well to deny Matthew Roberts after a minute and Invicta held out until just over two minutes when Thomas Castle collected a loose puck and scored in the unguarded frame to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead. Almost two minutes later Ondrej Zosiak made a very rare mistake that allowed Tom Mboya to double the home side’s edge to two at 03.54. Invicta’s hardworking forwards were also showing great teamwork – as well as chasing down every MK shirt, their puck possession and retention went a considerable way in helping ease the pressure on the rear guard. Matthew Roberts was getting frustrated by this and wiped out Joshua Condren on 04.31 to give the Dynamos a powerplay and a chance to have a breather whilst Callum Fowler tested Thunder goalie Villem-Henrik Koitmaa. After the powerplay, Elliott Dewey chested a shot away from the Mos goal before Coach Parrish called a timeout to help kill some seconds and rally his troops. Frustratingly, Arran Strawson then got called for tripping and the visitors were left to defend their empty net a skater down. However, with sweeper-keeper Dewey again blocking well and Callum Fowler carrying the play from one end to the other, the Dynamos successfully killed the man advantage. With 1 minute 22 seconds remaining on the clock a now fully kitted Damien King was finally able to join the game prompting the Mos to change strategy and go from defending to attack. The hard work paid off at 19.59 – the Thunder defending a powerplay but allowing Eriks Ozollapa and Steve Osman to pose problems in a crowded MK defence zone and Callum Fowler the opportunity to rifle home just before the buzzer to make it 2-1 at the end of the period.
In the second frame Damien King had his first involvement in the tie with a save on 20.56 that denied MK captain Jamie Line. King’s opposite number Villem-Henrik Koitma, was next in the action – thwarting a powerful slapshot from Harrison Lillis moments later. Following a hooking call on Line, the Dynamos then notched the equalising goal on 23 minutes – Arran Strawson finding Steve Osman on the left and the forward hitting the puck across goal for Callum Fowler to tap in for 2-2. Invicta were now firmly on top and all of Eriks Ozollapa, Strawson and Conor Redmond went close before the Mos had to switch game plan once again in the 35th minute having taken penalties on Elliott Dewey and Harrison Lillis. However the Thunder rarely threatened King’s goal during the powerplay and, as soon as the visitors got back to full strength, Tom Castle and Matt Roberts both picked up minors giving the Dynamos the chance to attack 5-on-3. It to a go-ahead goal on 39.20 – Fowler turning provider for Osman to score – Elliott Dewey claiming the second assist.
After literally being a spectator for much of the first, Damien King only faced four shots during the second period but he was called into action early in the third, denying Ross Bowers soon after the restart. Invicta then stretched their lead to 4-2 in the 42nd minute – Conor Redmond grabbing his second goal of the weekend, assisted by Osman and McNicoll – Osman making it a hat-trick of assists to go with his goal. At 43.30 Eriks Ozollapa put the game beyond doubt – the Latvian accepting Callum Fowler’s inviting pass to increase the score to 5-2. Tom Mboya did have a great opportunity to claw one back for MK with ten minutes remaining but a defiant King stopped his progress with an outstretched leg. Then, when Thunder veteran Jamie Randall was penalised for hooking on 59.00, Invicta wrapped-up the game just seven seconds later – Ozollapa grabbing his second of the night, and Strawson his third assist as the away side rounded off a 6-2 victory.
So it was a heroic victory for the Dynamos who overcame 18 minutes without a netminder and a two goal deficit to record a win that will not be forgotten. After the buzzer the Invicta players and coaching staff walked over to the travelling supporters to applaud them for their amazing support – the fans in disbelief at what they had just witnessed. Steve Osman collected the man of the match honours for the Mos whilst Damien King also completed a shutout for the time he was on the ice – blocking out 12 shots.
Written by Lee Allen.