The Invicta Dynamos’ title challenge suffered a major blow on Sunday night as Callum Fowler’s lone strike was not enough to prevent his side from falling to a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Chelmsford Chieftains in Essex.
Head Coach Kevin Parrish would have wanted a solid start from his team in the opening minutes at the Riverside but he was forced to watch on as the Dynamos shipped a goal within 41 seconds to trail 1-0. During a spell of 4-on-4, with Darren Brown in the box for boarding and Arran Strawson joining him for his reaction, Martin Piecha found space down the left channel and his backhand effort caught the arm of Mark Lee and bounced agonisingly over the line to secure the breakthrough. At 06.09 it was then 2-0 – a scramble in front of the Invicta net coming to an end when James Ayling stabbed beyond a frantic Lee to put the hosts firmly in control. A 2+10 penalty to Charlie Phillips for checking to the head only exacerbated a disastrous start for the Dynamos who were then later unable to make the most of three successive powerplays with Lukas Zatopek, Daniel Hammond and Daniel Wright all serving stints in the box. They were made to pay for their failure to convert when Chelmsford added a third to their tally at 17.07 – Matt Turner’s backhand from wide left thumping the roof of the goal and bouncing clear but both goal judge and referee Jurijs Solovjovs in no doubt that the puck had crossed the line.
3-0 down at the start of the second the Dynamos had to net next if they wanted to remain in the tie and they did at 21.10 – a frantic scramble in front of goal seeing netminder Ben Clements deny three but unable to prevent Callum Fowler prodding in from the edge of the crease behind him. Fowler then came close to a second as his deflected effort drifted just wide of the left post before a tripping minor to Charlie Phillips put Chelmsford back on the front foot at 24.19. They would make it count at 24.59 – Martin Piecha finding Daniel Hammond close left and Hammond’s effort getting lost in the skates of Mark Lee before slipping over the line for a 4-1 edge. Lee would be under pressure again immediately after as James Ayling escaped on the breakaway but the forward lifted over the bar having shifted right to the relief of the travelling support. As time wound down Callum Fowler then almost scored what would have been a sublime solo goal – Fowler controlling a lofted clearance using the heel of his trailing skate, deking beyond his man to go in on net and firing off of the underside of the bar to leave the game at 4-1.
In the final period Chelmsford continued to have the better of the chances and they killed the tie completely at 44.03 – Charlie Phillips robbed of possession behind his own net by Darren Brown who then teed up a simple back post finish for the waiting Matt Turner. The Dynamos would call a timeout shortly after but a revival failed to emerge and their chances were all but scuppered when Phillips was then tossed from the tie with a major for tripping on Ryan Giles. Incensed by the call Phillips clashed with opposing fans through the plexi as he attempted to leave the ice before family joined the flare up the other side of the boards. When the action restarted the Chieftains duly made the powerplay count – Michael Ranby and Darren Brown involved in the build-up before James Ayling fired beyond Mark Lee from the slot to seal the 6-1 victory at 53.01.
So it was defeat for the Dynamos and one which has now all but gift wrapped the NIHL South Division 1 title for the Chelmsford Chieftains. Unsavoury third period scenes aside, the hosts were the better outfit on the night as the Mos frequently struggled to clear their own zone whilst finding Ben Clements in defiant mood at the other end of the ice. Clements would take the man of the match beers for Chelmsford whilst Callum Fowler took the spoils for the Dynamos. Meanwhile an announcement regarding both Billy and Charlie Phillips would follow the day after the fixture with both players departing the side with immediate effect.