The Invicta Dynamos were within an inch of a point on Saturday night as Charlie Phillips rattled the frame of the goal in a frantic finale that saw the Mos narrowly lose out 8-7 to the Wightlink Raiders in the NIHL South Division 1 and English Challenge Cup.
The Dynamos gave debuts to Billy and Charlie Phillips at the Ryde Arena and their inclusion gave the visitors a boost – Juraj Huska lighting the lamp at 04.10 to make it 1-0 with assists going to captain Anthony Leone and blue liner Elliott Dewey. However a roughing minor to Billy Phillips soon after gave the hosts the chance to answer quickly – the clock stopping at 08.57 when Jeremy Cornish beat an injured but battling Chris Douglas on the powerplay to tie it up at 1-1. At 12.48 the Raiders then powered ahead – Richard Facey taking advantage of an unsighted netminder to fire in allowing Jaroslav Cesky and Alex Barker to claim assists. The Mos were resilient though and sought a way back into the tie – Billy Phillips thumping the crossbar before Juraj Huska turned in his second of the evening at 17.07 after build up play from Steve Osman and Nicky Lewis to make it 2-2 following 20 minutes of play.
After an action packed first period the second then somehow surpassed it with the visitors notching first at 23.45 to go 3-2 ahead – Billy Phillips marking his first appearance for the Mos with a thumping drive to notch on the powerplay. Tempers then flared between Harrison Lillis and former Dynamo Corey Watkins as they ditched the gloves to exchange punches – Watkins scoring the early blows but Lillis countering well and managing the takedown for the win. Despite the momentum seemingly with the away side, Wightlink then answered at 30.52 to restore parity yet again – Charlie Phillips sat in the box allowing Owen Griffiths the space to tip beyond Chris Douglas to make it 3-3. When Phillips then returned to the ice another scrap soon followed – the young blue liner reacting to a cross check from Carl Graham by downing his gloves and then downing his opponent in a single punch to the delight of the travelling support. However, just as before, it was the Raiders who tallied next following a bout – Craig Tribe putting them in front with a neat finish at 38.32 for the 4-3 edge with 40 minutes gone.
In the final frame the pace went up yet another notch and the balance of the tie looked to be turning in favour of the Dynamos at 47.55 when Wightlink import Jaroslav Cesky was given a match penalty for a wayward high stick that caught Andy Smith. A five minute powerplay was the result and the Mos used it to their advantage to level the tie at 4-4 – Juraj Huska completing his hat-trick with a fine finish to leave everything to play for. However just as one match penalty ended another followed but this time for the Dynamos – Callum Fowler tossed from the tie on a boarding call that left the visitors a major penalty to kill. It was to be a tall order but when Andy Smith then grabbed a shorthanded go-ahead goal for the Mos at 53.35 confidence was high in the camp that they could hold on to a 5-4 edge. That ask soon became too much when Elliott Dewey was also sent to the box and the Raiders replied at 55.53 for 5-5 – Alex Barker turning in on the powerplay to set up the most frantic of finales. Still with the man advantage the Raiders then added two more to seemingly decide the tie – the first of the pair coming at the hands of Damon Larter at 55.49 and the second courtesy of Craig Tribe at 57.35. During such a fast paced exchange it seemed inevitable that tempers would then flare again and they did in an unlikely match-up – Anthony Leone braving the brawling experience of Jeremy Cornish and giving a good account of himself in a scrap against unlikely odds. When play restarted the Mos rolled the dice by pulling goalie Chris Douglas and they hit back to cut the deficit to one at 58.55 – Andy Smith firing in following a pass from Juraj Huska to make it 7-6. However Wightlink then found the empty frame at 59.19 to restore the late two goal cushion – Craig Tribe again on target as he put the puck over the line for 8-6. To their credit though the Dynamos continued to push forward and with only 41 seconds to go they refused to give up. At 59.40 Juraj Huska converted for a fourth time to make it 8-7 before Charlie Phillips was agonisingly denied a last second debut leveller when his effort from deep caught the upright to leave the Raiders celebrating the slimmest of victories.
So it was defeat for the Dynamos but one from which they can take a lot of heart. Phillips brothers Billy and Charlie were both impressive on their debuts, Chris Douglas played through the pain barrier to keep his team in the hunt and Juraj Huska continued his fine form with four more goals displaying his quality. Most importantly the team played together to suggest the promise of better results to come in the near future with the Milton Keynes Lightning set to visit Gillingham on Sunday.