A Scott Bailey double and a third from Steve Osman saw the Invicta Dynamos overcome the Milton Keynes Thunder 3-1 at the SilverBlades Gillingham on Saturday night securing a two goal cushion ahead of the 2nd leg in Buckinghamshire on Sunday.
Fighting for the right to extend their season the Thunder made no secret of their desire to cause an upset and travelled to Kent with a team of 21 – only Connor Hutchinson, Cameron Wynn, Nicholas Poole and Christopher Jenkins missing out. The Mos would be outnumbered with 18 – Haydn, Taylor and Bailey Wootton all unavailable alongside Adam McNicoll and James Richardson. Damien Kling and David Wride were the starting netminders.
In the opening frame the hosts looked to be suffering hangover from cup final disappointment the week before and the Thunder attempted to take advantage with a number of early chances. Harrison Goode found space close left forcing a quick save from Damien King before a bouncing puck just eluded Hallden Barnes-Garner at the back stick with the goal at his mercy. Goode again was clear wide right but his wrist shot was off the netminder’s shoulder and over the plexi before Ross Bowers and Jamie Line countered 2-on-1 but Line fluffed his shot at the back stick after his teammate’s pass. Midway through the Mos slowly began to threaten – Nicky Lewis firing onto the upright having been teed up by Joshua Condren and Ashley Jackson searching for the 5-hole but David Wride doing enough to block and push the puck away from the on-rushing Adam Rehak. Perhaps the chance of the period fell to Barnes-Garner when Jakub Klima picked him out right in front but Damien King stood tall and made the block when left exposed. With time all but over Lewis then struck the frame for a second time – the Welshman lifting over the netminder from close right but onto the underside of the bar and then watching as the puck bounced clear to leave the tie goalless after one.
The second period started only slightly better than the first – Callum Fowler finding Steve Osman in the slot but the forward firing straight down the gut of David Wride before the Thunder should have opened their account when Jakub Klima escaped the rear guard but his shot missed the target. Only a brave diving block from Arran Strawson then prevented Hallden Barnes-Garner’s slapshot from finding twine before the tie finally burst into life midway through. Ironically the hosts secured the opener whilst shorthanded – Nicky Lewis in the box for slashing as an Ondrej Zosiak pass sent Fowler and Scott Bailey 2-on-1 and the captain’s play to the middle was swept over Wride with one touch from Bailey for his first SilverBlades goal at 32.37. Typically the Thunder answered almost instantly – at 34.14 Jakub Kliuma’s effort from wide right was blocked by King but Barnes-Garner prodded in at the left post during the scramble that followed to tie it up at 1-1. Nicky Lewis then tried to restore the lead however his shot found the mask of the netminder and not the net behind him but the Mos were back on the board at 38.09. This time Osman held the play behind the net before flicking to the slot where the on-rushing Bailey battered the puck over Wride with a one-timer for his second of the evening to make it 2-1.
In the final frame Scott Bailey bounced Connor Goode to the ice after an attempted hit from the Thunder man before Callum Fowler tested David Wride with a slapshot from the blue line that was travelling but the goalie did well to not just save but hold. That would prove to be Fowler’s last involvement with the Mos captain then sitting out the remainder of the tie with a presumed injury placing his involvement in the second leg in doubt. Despite the loss the home side added a third at 47.27 – Ondrej Zosiak centring for Steve Osman with a clear sight of target between the circles and he forced under the netminder at the second attempt to make it 3-1. Milton Keynes did their best to cut into the deficit as Jamie Line forced an athletic save from Damien King before tempers almost flared in the dying moments – Simon Howard hooking Adam Rehak before hitting him after the whistle prompting a shoving match involving both Arran Strawson and Mason Webster. Howard was the only man penalised with a minor for hooking and was left to watch on as Webster then delivered the hit of the tie with a thump that ended a counter attack from Jakub Klima late on.
So it was a 3-1 win for the hosts at the final buzzer and a win that gave them a narrow edge ahead of the second leg in Buckinghamshire on Sunday night. Whilst the performance was far from polished the result was exactly what was required against a team that has frequently pushed the Dynamos to all the way in meetings throughout the season. Man of the match awards went to Hallden Barnes-Garner of Milton Keynes whilst a stop rate of 96.77% saw Damien King secure the spoils for the Mos.
Written by Paul Bennett.