Hat-tricks from both Anthony Leone and Callum Fowler helped the Invicta Dynamos to a 7-3 NIHL South Division 1 victory over the Cardiff NIHL Devils on Saturday evening as forward Frankie Harvey made his debut at the Silver Blades Gillingham.
The opening frame saw a sluggish start but Cardiff goalie Luke Takel still had to be at his best to deny Andy Smith’s shorthanded breakaway with Billy Phillips sat in the box early on. Nevertheless the hosts did enough to break the deadlock at 06.50 – debutant Frankie Harvey the architect with a determined skate through the middle and a backhand shot from close left that Takel denied only for Smith to follow up and prod the rebound over the line. At 11.44 tempers then flared as William Morris charged into the back of Juraj Huska against the boards – Anthony Leone reacting to the illegal hit by racing in, ditching the gloves and landing a number of blows before the officials intervened. Leone would receive 2+2 for roughing whilst his counterpart was on the receiving end of 2+10 for checking from behind and 2 for roughing in addition to a now bruised lip. Despite the clash the remainder of the frame was played at a low intensity allowing the until now toothless Devils to nab an unlikely equaliser at 17.25. Ben Brown crossed the blue line through the middle and, with the defence backing off him, he tried his luck from distance sending a wrist shot through the grasp of a disappointed Chris Douglas for 1-1.
After a largely flat first the Mos were swift to get going again in the second – Luke Takel too slow to freeze Juraj Huska’s slapshot allowing Anthony Leone to steal the puck, shift right and flick home on the backhand from point blank range at 20.45. They were then in again at 24.08 – Andy Smith centring from the left boards to Frankie Harvey in the high slot and his pass to the foot of the right circle was thundered in low courtesy of a Callum Fowler one-timer for 3-1. A bench penalty for too many men and a tripping call to Anthony Leone gave the visitors a chance at clawing their way back into the tie immediately after but it would take them until the awarding of a penalty shot at 28.58 to finally reply. Juraj Huska’s dive brought down an escaping Ben Brown in the neutral zone and Brown stepped up himself, keeping it simple with an easy skip right and low sweep inside the near post beyond the outstretched leg of Chris Douglas for 3-2. Cardiff’s strike sent them looking for a third and they had it at 31.37 – Joe Morris trapping the puck on the blue line and dispatching a wrist shot low through traffic and the 5-hole of an unsighted Douglas to level it up at 3-3. However their comeback seemed all in vain at the buzzer with the Dynamos retaking the lead at 38.10 – Andy Smith in the slot finding Callum Fowler point blank left and Fowler roofing high with one touch for his second of the night.
Having seen their rally halted at the end of the second, Cardiff were all but deflated soon after the start of the third as the Mos struck twice in three minutes to put them 6-3 behind. The first of the pair came at 41.24 – Callum Fowler speeding down the middle before his sweep to centre from the left circle caught the skate of a defenceman right in front and diverted beyond Luke Takel to complete a hat-trick for the forward. The second followed swiftly at 42.14 – Juraj Huska carrying the play up the middle and teeing up Anthony Leone right of the target whose quick stick work saw him control and divert beyond Takel with a flick into the far corner to double his tally for the night. Not content with a pair, Leone would complete his own hat-trick at 52.18 – Callum Fowler finding him in the slot and the captain stroking just inside the left upright to put his team 7-3 to the good. It was to be the last of the night despite the Mos creating a number of other chances and completed what would eventually be a comfortable win.
So it was a league win for the Dynamos who undoubtedly still had plenty more in their locker whist their Welsh opponents battled hard but lacked the attacking threat to pose genuine problems. Man of the match awards went to Anthony Leone of the hosts whilst Ben Brown took the spoils for visiting Cardiff. Meanwhile debutant Frankie Harvey took three assists from his first appearance and linked up well with new teammates Andy Smith and Callum Fowler on the first line to give a taste of what may still yet be to come.