The Invicta Dynamos were left with a mountain to climb in their second leg against the Wightlink Raiders in the NIHL Southern Playoffs after losing 7-2 to the Isle of Wight outfit in Ryde on Saturday night.
The Dynamos roster was without the services of both Taylor and Haydn Wootton, Damien Welch and forward Jack Lee.
Following the puck drop Callum Fowler gave the away side the perfect start after only 40 seconds as Eriks Ozollapa found the speedy forward unmarked allowing him to stroke the puck past Matt Colclough for 1-0. Fowler then almost doubled his tally and the lead a few minutes later when Nicky Lewis found him but his effort was deflected onto the roof of the arena. Invicta carried on applying pressure and really should have scored another when Arran Strawson carried the play out of defence before hitting a cutting pass to Ozollapa but the Latvian pulled his shot too far wide of Colclough leaving the goal unthreatened. The duo combined yet again two minutes later – this time the import forward seeing a backhand flick well saved. Ryan Webb then went close for Wightlink midway through the first period when he screwed his shot wide – but he had better luck in the 17th minute with a deflected effort that beat Damien King for the equaliser.
The start of the second period almost had Jordan Gregory edge the Raiders in front and Damien King had to be alert to deny him early on. As the tie progressed Wightlink looked to have a game plan to take Callum Fowler from the game with Corey Watkins twice having penalties for incidents with the Invicta forward – once for roughing and, when he returned straight to the ice, another one for hooking. Whilst on a 4-on-4 the Raiders then edged in front through Brendan Baird to lead 2-1 on 24.49. It would then all kick off seconds later – Callum Fowler taken out by Nick Compton which left the forward playing no further part. Arran Strawson stepped in to defend his team mate and as he approached Compton, Corey Watkins took Strawson from the side and grounded the Dynamo whilst continuing to throw punches with him on the ground. Watkins ended up being thrown from the game but still found time to taunt the away fans as he left the ice. Penalty after penalty followed as both teams competed in a feisty period – Wightlink increasing their lead further to 3-1 on 31.40 through Rob Streetly. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Dynamos with chances for Steve Osman and Eriks Ozollapa but neither could grab a goal before the buzzer ended the period.
It was a third period to forget for the Dynamos and it started with Bradley Gutridge missing a chance that was easier to put on target than wide but the forward did the latter. That miss was punished moments later as Wightlink, who were shorthanded, notched a further goal – Alex Sampford easing past Harrison Lillis to make it 4-1 on 46.49. The Dynamos kept the Raiders at bay for 6 more minutes but 3 more goals by Cesky, Rose and Tribe increased that lead to a commanding 7-1. A late consolation from Adam McNicoll gives the Mos a glimmer of hope for the second leg but at 7-2 they will now left themselves requiring the performance of the season to reach the final.
Man of the match awards went to Conor Redmond of the Dynamos whilst Jaroslav Cesky scooped the spoils for the Raiders.
Written by Lee Allen.