The Invicta Dynamos are NIHL Southern Cup finalists after a man of the match performance from Callum Fowler helped fire the side to a 7-3 win over the Wightlink Raiders on Sunday and secure a 9-6 aggregate semi-final victory.
With a 3-2 deficit to overcome from the night before, the Mos should have been faster out of the traps but their Isle of Wight opponents arrived with a game plan and were executing it effectively early on. In fact it took a fine Mark McGill save to deny Ryan Webb the opener when clean through after strong hold up play from teammate Richard Facey. At 08.29 the Raiders then had their reward – the puck breaking back from the crease to Carl Graham racing forward from the blue line and the defencemen smashing home into the bottom corner to make it 1-0. Only Mark McGill prevented them from adding to that tally soon after – the Scot throwing himself across his goal to make up huge amounts of space and shutout Craig Tribe at the back door. It was slightly against the run of play then when the Mos quickly countered and equalised through Nicky Lewis – the forward picking up a rebound in the slot, waiting for Matt Colclough to commit and driving over the line for 1-1 at 15.02. The Welshman’s strike would spur the hosts into action, Callum Fowler turning Simon Hobbis inside out before firing just over the top, before the Dynamos claimed their second as late as 19.41. Andy Smith chased down a loose puck in the left corner before pulling back to the slot where a waiting Fowler turned inside the near post for 2-1 – 4-4 on aggregate.
After surging ahead late in the first the timing of the period break was far from ideal for the Dynamos as Wightlink used the intermission to regroup before successfully frustrating their hosts in the second. At 22.40 they claimed a goal to make it 2-2 and lead overall – Owen Griffiths speeding down the left channel before a pass across the crease set up his player/coach Jeremy Cornish for the simplest of back post finishes. Cornish would later receive an accidental high stick to the face from Adam McNicoll for his troubles but the visitors’ powerplay was cancelled out as Nick Compton also sat for slashing. Nevertheless the Raiders were suffocating the game, leaving very little space on the ice and frustrating the Dynamos who failed to find a way through with individual skates too often leading down blind alleys. However a rare fluid counter would prove invaluable at 39.29 – Callum Fowler, Andy Smith and Michal Oravec spreading the play during a 3-on-2 and the Slovak rifling beyond Matt Colclough from between the circles to make it 3-2 – 5-5 on aggregate.
So after 100 minutes of play it was all down to the final 20 to decide a victor and the Mos made the perfect start to force the Raiders from their stubborn game plan. At 41.45 Matt Colclough denied both Callum Fowler and Andy Smith but he could do nothing to prevent Juraj Huska seizing possession and finishing calmly to make it 4-2. For the first time the Dynamos now led the tie leaving Wightlink with little option but to be more adventurous and risk leaving space as a result. Callum Fowler almost took advantage but instead found the post from close left before a holding minor on Simon Hobbis would prove the Raiders’ undoing at 49.00. Juraj Huska jinked inside from the left and eventually forced over the line at full stretch on the ground with Matt Colclough stranded at his near post and unable to stop the Slovak’s strike that made it 5-2. Jeremy Cornish really should have cut into that deficit for Wightlink when he had half the goal to aim at having been found at the back stick but he misfired leaving all the momentum with the Mos. The hosts would make it count at 53.42 – Fowler and Huska again combining effectively as Fowler swept towards the far post from close left to give his teammate a hat-trick completing third and his ninth against the Raiders in 2014/15. Wightlink mustered a reply to make it 6-3 (8-6 on aggregate) at 55.29 as Craig Tribe bundled beyond Mark McGill from close right but it would prove a mere consolation – a point further emphasised when Callum Fowler netted the last of the evening at 59.48. Fowler won the faceoff right of the target, skipped across the crease and then roofed home over Matt Colclough to complete the 7-3 victory – a 9-6 aggregate win.
So it’s a cup final berth for the Dynamos who struggled throughout the opening two periods but made the perfect start in the last, forced the Raiders from their game plan and ran away with the tie in the third. The Raiders battled stubbornly but missing both Jaroslav Cesky and Alex Barker were short of creativity up front whilst the Mos did enough to get across the line despite the absence of Mark Lee and Frankie Harvey. Man of the match honours went to the lively Owen Griffiths of Wightlink and five point hero Callum Fowler of the hosts.