Three goals from Callum Fowler, a strike from Joshua Condren and a shutout from Damien King saw the Invicta Dynamos overturn a 4-3 deficit on Sunday night by beating the Milton Keynes Thunder 4-0 to progress to the playoff semi-finals.
Despite trailing by a goal following defeat in Milton Keynes the night before, the Mos would have been confident of a comeback on home ice but the visitors were stubborn opponents for much of the opening frame. Stand in netminder Mark Woolf – deputising for Stephen Wall who suffered a broken skate blade in the warm-up – gave up nothing in the opening exchanges as he stopped Ondrej Zosiak going coast-to-coast and Joshua Condren from close left. Steve Osman was also denied from prime shooting territory in the slot before the hosts finally found a way through at 16.45. Brad Gutridge fired a low shot at net from the blue line that would have posed little threat to the netminder until Condren diverted into the far corner from right in front to make it 1-0 and level on aggregate. By 19.39 the Mos were then in front overall – a beautifully crisp interchange between Steve Osman, Conor Redmond and Callum Fowler slicing through the Thunder rear guard with Redmond presenting the puck on a platter for Fowler to finish at the back post.
2-0 up on the night and now 5-4 ahead on aggregate, the Mos were exactly where they wanted to be at the start of the second and they almost had another early on as Conor Redmond stepped inside Nidal Phillips but fired into the pads of Mark Woolf. At 27.17 that third would follow – Callum Fowler providing a typical glimpse of magic as he outmuscled Tom Mboya, outpaced Nidal Phillips and Jamie Randall and swept into the top far corner from close right on the backhand to make it 3-0. The visitors tried to answer their ever increasing deficit by getting physical – Simon Howard roughing up Steve Osman after a battle for the puck in the crease and Connor Goode landing a hefty hit on Conor Redmond that momentarily left him seated on the ice. The Thunder were struggling to present a goal threat though – Ross Bowers coming closest as he beat two men to find space in the left circle but he fired over the target leaving his team 6-4 down overall.
In the final period the Dynamos continued to have the better of the chances – Jacob Ranson was robbed by the glove of Mark Woolf whilst Joshua Condren fired over the target from a great position right in front. Down the other end the Thunder – so often reliant on the goals of their talisman Jamie Line – were struggling as the newly voted NIHL South Division 1 Player of the Year drew special attention from the Mos D and was suffocated out of the tie. Their inability to trouble Damien King resulted in a timeout being called midway through but still they remained on the back foot – Callum Fowler teeing up Adam McNicoll for the one-timer in the slot that was straight down the gut of netminder Mark Woolf. Woolf then eclipsed that stop five minutes from the end – Fowler breaking clear and holding onto the puck for an age to commit the shot stopper who still somehow rose to throw himself in front of the eventual effort and keep Milton Keynes alive. Inevitably he would be pulled in favour of the extra forward late on and it was then that the Thunder’s season was ended – Fowler finding the empty net from close right to complete a 4-0 victory and a hat-trick that secured a semi-final spot.
So it was the perfect result for the Dynamos – a commanding win and a shutout that now puts them into the final four of the NIHL Southern Playoffs. Man of the match awards went to Milton Keynes goalie Mark Woolf who performed valiantly having been thrust into the deep end and home defenceman Ondrej Zosiak who was composure personified from puck drop to final buzzer.
Written by Paul Bennett.