Season ends after Wightlink stalemate in semis

damienking_banner_100416The 2015/16 campaign has come to an end for the Invicta Dynamos after 0-0 draw with the Wightlink Raiders in Gillingham on Sunday meant that the Mos bowed out of the NIHL Southern Playoffs at the semi-final stage.

The Dynamos were already facing a mammoth task with a sizeable 7-2 deficit to overcome and injured talismanic forward Callum Fowler reduced to the role of spectator but their challenge became even greater inside just 40 seconds as Eriks Ozollapa collapsed to the ice. The import forward looked to have twisted his knee in a fall and the game was paused as the Latvian received treatment for five minutes before leaving the pad and playing no further part in the tie. Despite the setback the Mos still had the better of the opening exchanges with Nicky Lewis hitting the crossbar from close left and Matt Colclough adjusting at lighting speed to deny a Steve Osman rebound in the slot. Adam McNicoll was then unable to beat the pads of the netminder from the edge of the crease before the tie took a feisty turn just moments later. A typical exchange of shoves in the Dynamos goal crease culminated in Harrison Lillis tussling with Corey Watkins in a prolonged wrestle – Watkins still wearing his gloves and holding his stick pleading innocence but no doubt a marked man following his antics in the first leg the night before. As the officials pulled the pair apart a gloved punch to the face by Craig Tribe on Joshua Condren was then all the encouragement Condren needed to scrap – Tribe having instigated then keeping his mitts firmly on and attempting to play the role of victim. When the action restarted Daniel Rose thought he had given the visitors the lead as he forced the puck beyond Damien King from close range – too close in the eyes of the referee who ruled out his effort for man in the crease. Controversy then continued as Grant Baxter delivered the biggest hit of the night – Robert Streetly caught unaware as the Mos veteran steamrolled him only to be called for charging. As time wound down the Dynamos continued to push forward – Matt Colclough’s quick glove stopping Jacob Ranson’s sweep to the top far corner whilst Joshua Condren was also blocked from close right to leave it goalless after one and 7-2 to the visitors on aggregate.

Having failed to capitalise on a glut of good chances in the opening period the hosts found the Raiders far more stubborn in defence come the second with the Isle of Wight outfit able to sit back on their hefty five goal lead. Aaron Strawson tested the glove of the netminder from distance before Ondrej Zosiak went on a mazy skate from back to front and teed up Adam McNicoll at the back post but again Matt Colclough stood up to the task. Whilst goal action was hard to come by, controversy was never far away and Danny Ingoldsby was next to test the patience of the referee with a check to the head on Jacob Ranson that instigated another shoving session. On the powerplay defenceman Zosiak was again the biggest threat – another coast-to-coast foray forward ending with a shot off of the crossbar from close right.

The final period followed a similar pattern to the second though Craig Tribe forced Damien King into an early save with a backhand effort from point blank left. Meanwhile the Dynamos were still reliant on Ondrej Zosiak to find a way through – the Slovak skating around three to get a clear sight of goal close right but Matt Colclough’s shoulder blocked the puck’s route to the top near corner. Typical of his work rate all season Jacob Ranson also continued to plug away but his shot to the far post from the wing was padded to safety by the goalie. Time was now firmly against the Mos and Wightlink’s Jeremy Cornish almost scored the only effort of the night on his final visit to the rink as a player as he stick-handled around two but Damien King spoiled his party with a pad save. Nevertheless the Raiders’ player/coach would be celebrating at the buzzer as a 0-0 draw cemented a final place for the visitors and the end of the season for the Dynamos.

So it was a 7-2 aggregate defeat for the Mos but a valiant effort given the absence of Callum Fowler, the early loss of Eriks Ozollapa and the further loss of Joshua Condren with a shoulder injury ahead of the last. In the handshakes there were words of support for Jeremy Cornish on his final outing at the SilverBlades Gillingham before the Dynamos bid farewell to a crowd on its feet. Man of the match honours went to both goalies – Matt Colclough and Damien King each securing shutouts in the Mos’ first ever 0-0 draw.

Written by Paul Bennett.

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