The Invicta Dynamos started their play-off campaign by coming back from a losing position twice to claim a 3-3 draw in the first leg of the quarterfinals away at the Solent Devils ahead of the second leg in Gillingham on Sunday.
The Mos took to the ice without the services of Mark Lee, Steve Nightingale, Harrison Lillis, Grant Baxter and Callum Fowler whilst Billy Phillips was once again playing in a Dynamos jersey. Solent surprisingly had no Chico Cole guarding their net so Sam Calder deputised for the hosts.
The first period started with Alex Cole forcing a save from Mark McGill inside the opening two minutes before Invicta turned the play up the other end shortly afterwards with Adam McNicoll going close soon after. The Scot was then in the thick of the action again when he battled for the puck and sent Mitchell Murray crashing to the ice bottom first with a crunching hit. Billy Phillips was then next to fire at net with his first of numerous attempts on target at 4.40 but his effort from the left crept just wide. It was to be an eventful evening for Phillips as proven after six minutes when he produced a massive hit on Mitchell Murray sending Murray sprawling to the ground for a second time. A Nicky Lewis high stick followed immediately by a roughing minor had the Welshman sit in the penalty box for four minutes whilst Solent import Drew Campbell joined him for half that time with a roughing call of his own. The Devils then broke the deadlock on 13.31 – Andy Magee poaching in front having been assisted by Mitchell Murray and Ben Lock. Soon after Ralf Circenis showed the agitator side to his game when he took a cheap shot at Billy Phillips only for the Dynamos hard man to show he was not to be messed with. A huddle of players ended up getting involved with penalties awarded against Invicta’s Phillips, Adam McNicoll and Michal Oravec whilst Mitchel Murray and Ralf Circenis sat for the Devils. The penalties meant that the Mos were a man short and Solent took advantage by netting a powerplay goal on 17.45 to make it 2-0 – Alex Sampford the scorer with the assist going to George Norcliffe.
The Dynamos heaped pressure on Solent straight from the start of the second period with Elliot Dewey going very close on 22 minutes only for Sam Calder to save with his right leg. Mitchel Murray was penalised for tripping on 22.43 and the Dynamos made him pay by scoring through Billy Phillips just six seconds later with the blue liner being set up by Juraj Huska for 2-1. Just moments later, at 23.05, Adam McNicoll then fired Invicta level as he tucked the puck underneath Calder and into the back of the net with Arran Strawson claiming the assist. The Mos were now seeking the lead and both Huska and Phillips had attempts denied before Michal Oravec drilled across goal at 25.55 with McNicoll only an inch away from stabbing home. Billy Phillips was in the penalty box again at 27.16, this time for tripping, and his side were punished by Solent who scored again via Andy Magee on 28.03 to give the home side the 3-2 edge.
The Dynamos started the third period with attempts from Michal Oravec and Adam McNicoll but neither could convert their chances into goals with the visitors remaining one behind. Juraj Huska and Arran Strawson then both tested Sam Calder before Head Coach Kevin Parrish called a time out on 48.00. With time creeping-on, lovely play by Oravec set-up Andy Smith but the Dynamos forward could not seize the opportunity. The Mos continued to knock on the door and Huska took a shot on 52.05 that Calder smothered but the puck continued to creep towards the goal line having been touched by Mitchell Murray – almost a goal but eventually made safe by the Devils. However, for all his good work, Solent’s netminder Calder let the puck slip in front of him on 57.38 and it fell to Andy Smith in front who was on hand to tally and make the score line read 3-3. The game then closed with Billy Philips once again going close but the Dynamos would make do with a draw heading into Sunday’s home leg.
Man of the match awards went to Invicta’s Andy Smith and Solent’s Sam Calder after the buzzer but a mention too for Mark McGill who ended with a save percentage of 94.23% having faced 52 efforts on his net. All attention now turned to the second leg back at the Silver Blades on Sunday where the Mos knew a win of any kind would see them progress to the semis.
Written by Lee Allen.