Braces from Arran Strawson and Callum Fowler, alongside efforts from Eriks Ozollapa and Harrison Lillis were not enough to prevent a 7-6 road defeat to the Oxford City Stars on Saturday night in a bad tempered clash at Oxpens Road.
The Dynamos lost 4-1 on their most recent visit to Oxford in November and early signs suggested the visitors were in for another battle as Alan Green struck the post for the hosts inside the first 20 seconds. However a penalty to Ondrej Pekarik allowed the visitors to find their feet in the tie – Steve Osman and Eriks Ozollapa combining to setup Callum Fowler for a shot through traffic that made it 1-0 at 04.22. The advantage was short-lived – Pekarik atoning for his earlier misdemeanour with a strike beyond Damien King at 07.31 to tie it up at one each. Oxford then enjoyed the best of what remained in the frame – King a busy man as the visitors had to defend a game penalty on Bailey Wootton for boarding and a slashing call on captain Nicky Lewis. The Mos stood firm though and returned to the changing room with neither side in front and the score still at 1-1.
In the second period the Dynamos regrouped and retook the lead at 21.58 – Connor Redmond and Steve Osman awarded assists as Harrison Lillis bludgeoned the puck home from distance to make it 2-1. Eriks Ozollapa and Shane Moore then squared up to each other as netminder Tom Annetts produced a save – Ozollapa deemed an innocent party whilst Moore received 2+2 for roughing. When Alan Green then joined his teammate in the box for slashing the Mos added a third on the powerplay at 24.55 – Ozollapa finding the corner after good work from Callum Fowler. Ondrej Zosiak was denied the fourth when he struck the upright from distance but it did inevitably follow at 27.16 – Fowler hitting a shot that crossed the line via the skate of netminder Annetts to put the Mos 4-1 to the good. Fowler could have added another when he and Nicky Lewis escaped the Oxford rear guard but this time the Stars shot stopper came out on top minimise his team’s deficit. With the visitors enjoying such a spell of dominance it was bizarre that this was the point at which the wheels came off. At 32.31 Ondrej Pekarik fired home his second of the night to pull Oxford to within two with a little over seven minutes remaining in the frame. Come 36.56 the difference between the sides was just one – Dax Hedges shooting beyond Damien King on the turn as Alan Green and Joe Edwards bagged assists. By 38.12 the comeback was then complete – Theo Bundock on target after build up play from Joshua Florey and Darren Elliott to send the teams back to the changing rooms all square.
Having notched three without reply the Stars had momentum going into the last and it allowed them to kill an early 5-on-3 before taking the lead for the first time at 44.24. Having seen his fellow import get on the scoresheet twice, Boris Ruzicka joined in the act with a slapshot beyond Damien King that made it 5-4. The Mos then had another fruitless spell whilst 5-on-3 and their inability to convert was punished at 51.05 – Michael Whillock lighting the lamp following a pass from Ruzicka to put the hosts 6-4 to the good. Salt was then further rubbed into the wounds at 55.59 – Benjamin Ealey-Newman tallying his team’s last of the night with a goal that made it 7-4 and instigated a fight. In the aftermath Harrison Lillis brawled with Alan Green – the Invicta man securing the takedown – before goalscorer Ealey-Newman decided he too wanted to duel with Lillis. The result was a sizeable 2+2+2+2+10 for the Invicta defenceman whilst Green received just 2+2, Ealey-Newman another 2+2 and Shane Moore a misconduct. When the action restarted further penalty to Jake Florey provided the Mos a powerplay and they took advantage at 56.37 – Arran Strawson going solo with a foray forward and a finish beyond Tom Annetts that made it 7-5. Strawson then offered a further glimmer of hope at 58.37 – Conor Redmond and Eriks Ozollapa claiming assists as the defenceman drilled in another to pull the Mos within one. However, despite the late onslaught the Stars held firm leaving the Dynamos winless at Oxpens Road over their two visits in 2015/16.
So it was defeat and a disappointing loss given the visitors were 4-1 up at the midway point but Oxford battled back and then held off a late Mos charge to seal the two league points. Man of the match honours went to Callum Fowler of the visitors who now faced a trip to Milton Keynes to take on the Thunder the next day.
Written by Paul Bennett.