The Invicta Dynamos began 2016/17 with a bang as goals from Bailey Wootton and Callum Fowler saw them overcome current champions Chelmsford Chieftains 2-0 in a bad tempered affair at the Riverside.
After a summer of tweaking Head Coach Kevin Parrish gave debuts to Tommy Ralph, Mason Webster, Adam Rehak and Anthony Baskerville as the Mos entered their first tie at full strength with Ashley Jackson also suiting up for a return. It was the Chieftains who controlled much of the first though – the hosts exhibiting the benefit of two warm-up games and forcing netminder Damien King into a number of early saves. Cameron Bartlett tested the shot stopper from close right before an Alex Staples blue line drive set up a goalmouth scramble with King bravely managing to freeze. Midway through a high stick from Bartlett towards the mask of the goalie after the whistle prompted a shove from Callum Fowler and the Chelmsford man responded by landing blows – both players sitting 4 minutes afterwards. When the action restarted Nathaneal Williams then rattled the post whilst Jake Sylvester attempted to dance around King on a 2-on-1 but the shot stopper’s outstretched leg robbed him of the opening goal.
Having been under pressure for much of the first period but surviving unscathed, the Mos began to find their feet in the second with Ashley Jackson forcing Ben Clements into action with a shot from the right circle. The Olympian’s snapshot moments later then tested the pads of the netminder before Danny Hammond found space down the other end but discovered Damien King was equally difficult to beat. The visitors would enjoy the better of the remaining chances – Jackson at the heart of it again as his saucer pass to the middle saw Nicky Lewis bearing down on the target but the forward was unable to flick beyond Clements. Taylor Wootton then poked just over the frame following Adam Rehak’s centring pass and the Czech almost claimed an assist seconds later with his cross-ice play teeing up an Arran Strawson one-timer from the left circle but the goalie scrambled quickly to save. 16 seconds from time, at 39.44, the deadlock was broken in fortuitous circumstances – Bailey Wootton firing towards the crease from out wide and Cameron Bartlett’s unfortunate touch taking the puck beyond his own goalie for 1-0.
In the final frame Damien King delivered another masterclass in netminding with a trio of point blank saves as both Alex Staples and Danny Hammond snapped at a loose puck in front of the crease. Those stops were all the more valuable at 44.23 when the visitors then doubled their lead – Mason Webster’s drive to goal diverted in front by Callum Fowler and the new club captain lighting the lamp for the first time in 2016/17 for 2-0. Fowler was hungry for more and robbed the Chelmsford defence moments later but Ben Clements kept both him at bay and the follow up from line-mate Webster. A tense an end-to-end encounter then turned to mayhem at 51.43 as Chelmsford’s Billy Phillips saw the red mist in front of the Mos bench and lashed out in the direction of Ondrej Zosiak. Phillips refused to be pulled from the altercation prompting Mason Webster to step in and block his path to away team but Phillips proceeded to land punches on a grounded Webster, resist the officials and refuse to leave the ice and charge from the penalty box back at the Dynamos team for a second helping. At the same time Cameron Bartlett and Joshua Condren went toe-to-toe whilst Elliott Dewey handled a Nathaneal Williams who was itching to make his mark. Meanwhile Grant Bartlett coolly dispatched his gloves and stick on the home bench before blindsiding Mos import Adam Rehak with a suckerpunch from the side – Rehak not involved in the tussle in any capacity. When the brawling finally ceased the officials handed out the penalties – the Mos losing Webster with 2+2+game and Condren with 2+game for roughing whilst Chelmsford would do without Billy Phillips with 2+2+10+match, Charlie Phillips with match and Williams with 2+2+game for roughing. By the time the game restarted the Mos were able to comfortably see out the remainder of the tie and almost added to their lead but Nicky Lewis was denied at the back post by Ben Clements late on.
So hockey was back and with a huge cup win at the home of the current champions in a venue that is typically a difficult road trip for the Dynamos. The Mos lacked polish as expected in an opening encounter but will be delighted to take the victory with better surely still to come. Sadly it is the antics primarily lead by Billy Phillips late on that will take the headlines from the encounter with the EIHA now set the unenviable task of deciding on disciplinary action so early on in the campaign. Man of the match awards went to shutout hero Damien King of the Mos whilst Alex Staples took the honours for Chelmsford.