Two goals in a man of the match performance from Nicky Lewis inspired the Dynamos to a 6-3 victory over the London Raiders on Sunday to secure a second place finish in the NIHL South Division 1 with two games still to play.
The SilverBlades welcomed back shot stopper Chris ‘Disco’ Douglas, as he arrived in London colours having started the season in Kent, and the goalie began the game brightly fending off early pressure from a top line of Callum Fowler, Juraj Huska and Andy Smith. Having seen off the opening salvo London then took the lead against the run of play – Jakub Kostelansky entering the zone down the right and using defenceman Peter Beerling to mask his shot that beat an unsighted Mark McGill and crossed the line off of the underside of the bar at 02.42. However a hooking penalty to Stevie Dunnage gifted the Mos a powerplay and they took advantage to equalise at 04.46 – Michal Oravec batting down Arran Strawson’s blue line drive to leave Douglas no chance and tie it up at 1-1. The teams then traded chances for the remainder of the frame – Ross Wilkinson hitting the post from the slot and Liam Chong firing into the body of Mark McGill from close right for the Raiders whilst the visiting netminder twice denied Juraj Huska from close range as the two former teammates engaged in an entertaining duel.
Having taken the lead in the first, London should have repeated that feat in the second but Mark McGill quickly shut the door on Grant Taylor’s poke to the 5-hole from the edge of the crease to keep it level. The Dynamos then began to turn the screw and Andy Smith fired over despite time and space in the slot before Callum Fowler beat his marker for a sight of the target but found Chris Douglas in determined form. The pressure would tell at 29.39 – Anthony Leone finding Juraj Huska left of goal and the Slovak sweeping across the crease for Nicky Lewis to finish from close range. Later in the frame controversy then reigned supreme as the Mos added a third in unusual circumstances. Juraj Huska roofed over Chris Douglas from close left with the puck bouncing onto the goal line and being clawed away by the frantic netminder who did well to recover. Huska celebrated but play continued with Andy Smith later misfiring at the back post with the goal at his mercy and Stephen Deacon being thwarted from a similar position courtesy of a great scrambling stop from Mark McGill. At the next stoppage in play officials Kevin Ward and Phil O’Neill then discussed Huska’s earlier effort, now some 90 seconds ago, and opted to award the strike and reset the clock – an action that made it 3-1 and angered London’s travelling contingent but one that was later proven to be correct by video replay. When play restarted a now rattled Raiders conceded two quick-fire goals despite being on the powerplay to trail 5-1 at the buzzer. The first of the pair came at 37.51 – individual brilliance from Callum Fowler beating the London back line before the forward waited and waited for Chris Douglas to commit before roofing in to the now unguarded net. The second followed at 38.34 – Michal Oravec putting Nicky Lewis in on the breakaway and the Welshman showing some flair of his own with a step-over and emphatic finish that left his opponent bamboozled.
In the final period a feisty encounter eventually saw the gloves come off – Grant Baxter shoving Ross Wilkinson after a hard check on Jack Lee and Wilkinson responding by grabbing his opponent in a headlock. A quick exchange of punches followed with the London man landing more before the pair fell to the ice and were separated by the officials. When the action restarted the Raiders cut into their deficit midway through the frame – the clock stopping at 49.01 when Mark McGill denied Jakub Kostelansky from close right but was left powerless to prevent Jacob Ranson sweeping in the rebound on the backhand to make it 5-2. It was the Mos who would have the final say in the encounter though and it came in the final second – David Oliver deliberately pushing the net from its moorings to give the hosts a penalty shot at 59.59. Juraj Huska stepped up to take his duel with Chris Douglas to the next level and the Slovak duly delivered with a composed finish from close range to seal a comfortable looking 6-2 victory.
So it was a win for the Dynamos and one that ensures a second place finish in the NIHL South Division 1 despite two weekends of the fixtures calendar remaining. Whilst the Raiders undoubtedly offered far more of a challenge than they had in their most recent visit to Kent that saw them drubbed 9-0 in January, the hosts still had the edge and were too strong in attack for their London opponents. Man of the match awards went to Jacob Ranson of the visitors whilst Nicky Lewis took the honours for the Dynamos.