Ozollapa’s hat-trick helps sink the Stars

eriksozollapa_banner_300116Three goals in a man of the match performance from Eriks Ozollapa helped guide the Invicta Dynamos to a 5-1 home win over the Oxford City Stars on Saturday and claim two more points in the NIHL South Division 1.

Oxford secured a 2-2 draw on their last visit to the SIlverBlades and they showed no signs of submitting this time either as Benjamin Ealey-Newman dropped the gloves in the opening minutes. Feeling he had been impeded, Callum Fowler shoved his man prompting Ealey-Newman to retaliate with punches. Both combatants landed a couple before hitting the ice seconds later. When the action restarted it was the Mos who had taken the momentum – Eriks Ozollapa seizing possession in the slot and rifling home off of the bar at 04.35 to make it 1-0. Fowler then almost doubled that lead with a clear drive at Tom Annetts whilst Damien King’s outstretched leg was all that denied Ealey-Newman. However at 10.02 the gloves were off again – Jack Lee slashing the stick out of the hands of the ever involved Ealey-Neman to initiate a challenge and the two engaging in a lengthy wrestle before the officials intervened. A stop-start first was then halted once more when a deflected puck caught Adam McNicoll near the eye requiring a trip to Medway A&E and an outing for rink maintenance. After the restart the Stars then came on strong – Alan Green’s drive to the far past being turned around the upright by King before the visitors equalised at 14.10. Ondrej Pekarik showed great determination to chase down an icing call before turning out of the left corner and lifting over the netminder with a well placed backhand. In the aftermath Joshua Florey skated into King causing him to fall into his net and prompting a scuffle – Brad Gutridge and Shane Moore deciding to tussle. After a long period of posturing, Moore landed a solid punch before Gutridge wrestled him to the floor to end a swift bout and a frantic first frame.

After a lengthy opening period the second saw more of a focus on hockey and the Mos began to dominate the scoring chances – Jacob Ranson close to a go-ahead goal but just unable to reach Eriks Ozollapa’s pass across the crease. At 27.00 the hosts had their lead – Nicky Lewis beating his man down the right and skating to net before firing into the pads of Tom Annetts allowing Conor Redmond to convert the rebound at the back stick. A roughing penalty to Shane Moore then gave the Dynamos a powerplay and they took advantage immediately – Callum Fowler rounding the back of the target before coming out on the right side and firing through the legs of the netminder to make it 3-1 at 30.59. After a brief spell without any rough stuff it then looked as though the gloves may come off again – Steve Osman snapping at a loose puck between the pads of Annetts and Moore taking exception by landing a number of punches that went unpunished. Osman himself then squared up to Alan Green when the Oxford man made a late challenge on Harrison Lillis but there was nothing doing this time around and the Mos returned to the changing rooms 3-1 to the good.

In the final period the Stars needed to score first to retain any hopes of a comeback but those ambitions were extinguished as early as 40.55 – Eriks Ozollapa making it look all too easy as he beat two men dancing inside from the wing before firing beyond Tom Annetts at his near post for 4-1. The visitors could have answered – Joshua Ealey-Newman robbing Harrison Lillis to go clear but Damien King getting a shoulder in front of his goal bound wrist shot. Down the other end Nicky Lewis was a whisker away from a goal of the season contender – the forward literally jumping around the challenge of Joe Oliver whilst retaining puck control but just unable to beat Annetts on the backhand to round off the manoeuvre. Midway through there was then time for tempers to flare once more – Joe Edwards skating into, but not really hitting, King behind his net prompting both the goalie and Elliott Dewey to wrestle with him. The physicality stopped there and the Mos had dismissed the incident as soon as 51.27 as the claimed their fifth and last of the night. Callum Fowler’s diagonal found Eriks Ozollapa enjoying space at the back post and the Latvian swept in to complete his hat-trick and seal the win 5-1 win. To their credit Oxford battled on but King twice denied Dax Hedges before Tom Avery struck the frame late on.

So it was a win for the Mos and two more invaluable league points on the board especially given the loss of the Wightlink Raiders on the road in Streatham. After an even and feisty opening frame, the Mos focussed on the hockey and stepped it up to skip beyond the Stars, ultimately proving good value for the victory. Man of the match awards went to Joshua Florey of Oxford whilst hat-trick hero Eriks Ozollapa took the spoils for the Dynamos – Grant Baxter ensuring he couldn’t enjoy the occasion too much with a cheeky trip en route to the beers.

Written by Paul Bennett.

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