A defiant Chris Douglas saved 58 of 65 shots on Sunday night but it was not enough to prevent the Dynamos going down 7-2 to the team currently top of the EPL as the Basingstoke Bison battled their way to two points in the English Challenge Cup.
In the opening frame the Mos were immediately under pressure and often penned in behind their own blue line – netminder Chris Douglas required in the early minutes to deny Joe Rand at point blank range and preserve the 0-0 score line. Already it seemed a swift counter would be the key to the Dynamos posing problems and at 04.25 a speedy first line break did exactly that to end the deadlock. Andy Smith robbed Alex Sampford in the defensive third, raced up the left channel and around the challenge of Miroslav Vantroba before the perfect centre was converted by the on-rushing Callum Fowler at the foot of the right circle for 1-0. Steve Osman almost doubled that edge soon after but goalie Dean Skinns thwarted his one-timer from the slot to spare Basingstoke a 2-0 deficit. The Bison then increased the pressure and Stuart Mogg was unlucky not to level when his wrist shot from the blue line caught the underside of the bar before bouncing the wrong side of the goal line. It mattered little as Mogg then gathered possession and neatly found Alex Sampford between the circles who picked out the bottom far corner with a low slapshot at 14.05. Undeterred the Mos replied as soon as 15.58 – Anthony Leone’s pinpoint pass leaving Juraj Huska in behind Kurt Reynolds and the Slovak stick handled left before flicking just inside the near post on the backhand for the 2-1 first period lead. A disappointing frame for Basingstoke then only got worse at 18.55 when Aaron Connolly reacted unnecessarily to a hit with a dig into the chest of Charlie Phillips using his stick well behind the play – an action that would see him tossed from the tie for spearing.
In the second period the Mos lost out on the chance to make the most of Basingstoke’s major penalty as Steve Osman was penalised for hooking early on. That meant that when the Bison found the net at 26.14 they were back on level footing at 2-2. Andrew Melachrino dug the puck out from the left corner to find Joe Rand in the left circle and his shot hit the shoulder of Chris Douglas but edged over the line to make it all square. At 28.16 Basingstoke then took the lead – Nicky Chinn feigning a shot to skip past Harrison Lillis and go in on net before stick handling around Chris Douglas and flicking home for 3-2. By 35.04 that edge was then 4-2 – Douglas making a brilliant diving stop to deny Joe Rand in the slot but then unable to prevent Grant Rounding tapping in the loose puck behind him to secure the two goal cushion. It was an advantage the held until the buzzer sounded to confirm the end of a second period that had exhibited more grit than flair but now had the EPL leaders in front.
In the final frame Basingstoke wasted little time in putting the clash out of reach and added their fifth of the night at 41.11 – Joe Rand doing it all himself by skating between Danny Terry and Arran Strawson to go in on goal before a shot through the five-hole from close left for 5-2. The Mos should perhaps have answered soon after when Nicky Lewis found Greg Chambers just right of the target but the import was denied well by Dean Skinns at point blank range to maintain the three goal cushion. It was then Chris Douglas’ turn for acrobatics down the other end – the goalie sprawling across his line to stop a back post tap in for Grant Rounding after Joe Rand’s across the crease pass. He would be beaten at 55.13 though – Joe Greener carrying the play down the right then feeding Rounding with a diagonal to the slot who expertly dived to poke home with an outstretched stick for 6-2. The final strike of the evening would follow at 55.26 – Nicky Chinn taking the play behind the net before a neat reverse pass set up Joe Rand for a hat-trick completing near post finish that confirmed the 7-2 victory.
So it was defeat for the Mos but they battled tirelessly against their EPL leading opposition from start to finish and had them worried for at least half the tie. Man of the match honours went to Harrison Lillis of the Dynamos, though Chris Douglas warrants a mention after a busy display, whilst Grant Rounding took the spoils for the Bison.