It took a third period revival and a Frankie Harvey hat-trick to see the Invicta Dynamos recover from 3-2 down before going on to secure a 9-5 victory against the Oxford City Stars in the NIHL South Division 1 at the Silver Blades on Saturday.
Despite a slow start the hosts managed to secure the lead shorthanded at 05.20 – from his own zone Juraj Huska spotting Frankie Harvey speeding in behind the Oxford back line and Harvey winning the 1-on-1 duel with netminder Connor Standing by firing in low right. The Dynamos then lost blue liner Billy Phillips for the remainder of the tie and the next three fixtures after a moment of hot-headedness saw him take a roughing minor and two misconducts. As Aaron Craft froze the puck, Phillips face washed the approaching Evan Mackintosh to draw the roughing penalty, he then attempted to return to the ice to argue his point having been escorted to the bench for one misconduct before pushing away linesman Richard Belfitt to pick up the second. When the action restarted the Mos continued to have the better of the chances but Callum Fowler’s flick onto the crossbar from the edge of the crease was the closest they came to doubling their tally leaving the score at 1-0 after one.
In the second frame the Dynamos were still considerably shy of their best and the visiting Stars took advantage at 25.52 – Joe Edwards found alone in the right circle and able to force under the glove of Aaron Craft at his near post for 1-1. They would then surge ahead at 31.19 – Josh Florey sending Evan Mackintosh in down the left channel and the import having the legs to leave Harrison Lillis behind before lifting over the shoulder of Craft to tuck inside the top left corner to make it 2-1. However the Mos would respond with their second shorthanded effort of the night– Arran Strawson lofting the puck into the final third from his own goal line and finding both Andy Smith and Callum Fowler in the clear – Fowler centring for Smith to convert from the edge of the crease for 2-2 at 32.24. Oxford were not to be denied their lead though and claimed their third at 39.26 – Joe Oliver’s blue line drive deflecting perfectly to Adam Harris in the slot who roofed over an already committed Arran Craft for the 3-2 edge.
A goal behind and facing another upset the Mos had to up their game in the last and a powerplay strike from Michal Oravec at 47.01 set them on the way to a comeback victory. Oravec skated down the left channel before his attempted backhand pass to the crease was diverted beyond Connor Standing by the stick of his own defenceman Tom Avery for 3-3. At 47.33 the hosts then had the lead – Frankie Harvey gliding out of the left corner unchallenged before firing through the 5-hole of the netminder from close range to put the Mos 4-3 to the good. Their charge continued at 48.34 – Juraj Huska finding Callum Fowler in the right circle from the left boards and Fowler sweeping towards the back post for Andy Smith to poke home for the two goal cushion. To their credit Oxford stopped the rot immediately – the clock showing 49.06 when James Pentecost’s dump into the offensive zone bounced to an on-rushing Evan Mackintosh at the foot of the right circle and Mackintosh fired low through the pads of Aaron Craft to cut the deficit to 5-4. However by now the Dynamos had a taste for goals and they would muster another three before the Stars could reply to put the game beyond the reach of the visitors. The first of the trio came at 52.55 – Adam McNicoll controlling to the left of the net before teeing up Andy Smith for the simplest of finishes the other side of the target for 6-4. At 56.18 it was 7-4 – Michal Oravec beating two defenceman whilst skipping in from the left channel before firing low back across goal and into the bottom far corner from close right for his second of the evening. The third then followed at 58.22 – Callum Fowler deking his way around James Pentecost for a clear view of net before launching into the top near corner beyond Connor Standing with deadly accuracy to make it 8-4. Despite the clock winding down there was still time for two more goals – Oxford managing a response in fortuitous circumstances at 59.09 as Nick Oliver centred from the right wing and watched on as the puck deflected off of the stick of Adam McNicoll beyond his own netminder Aaron Craft for 8-5. However the last strike of the night fittingly belonged to Frankie Harvey who, at 59.53, fired low beyond Connor Standing at the near post from close right to complete his hat-trick and seal and eventually comfortable 9-5 victory.
So it was a win for the Dynamos who powered home in the final frame having made hard work of the opening two and found Oxford in the mood to cause an unlikely upset. The night was slightly soured by the ejection of Billy Phillips that will now see him sit a three match ban having reached in excess of 15 penalty points this season but two league points keep the hosts in with a shot at the title ahead of a trip to Chelmsford. Man of the match on the night was hat-trick hero Frankie Harvey of the Mos with perhaps his best performance since switching from the London Raiders earlier in the campaign.