The Invicta Dynamos’ second biggest win of the season saw the side bulldoze their way into the NIHL Southern Playoff Final as they overcame Streatham 10-1 in Gillingham to win the semi-final 13-4 on aggregate.
Both teams came into the decider at full strength – the Dynamos without Adam McNicoll and Haydn, Taylor and Bailey Wootton who all miss out on the remainder of the season whilst James Richardson supported from the stands. Streatham arrived with their full compliment of 20.
Saturday’s tense 3-3 tie was followed by more of the same in the opening period on Sunday as both teams struggled to make their mark in front of net. Tommy Ralph beat his man on the blue line for a clear sight of goal but Matt Colclough padded away his low shot before Scott Bailey had almost too much time and space in the slot and fired straight into the netminder. Down the other end a deflected Chris Cooke effort had Damien King scrambling to make the save before Daniel Rose seized a loose puck right in front but he too found King blocking his path. Arguably the Mos had the better of the frame and Ondrej Zosiak’s coast-to-coast attempt again forced Colclough into action before a Bailey one-timer from the slot was also turned wide. At 12.31 a check from behind on Adam Rehak by Ryan Webb saw the Streatham man sit 2+10 but still the Dynamos were unable to secure the lead. Callum Fowler beat his marker on the outside to go clear but struggled to stick handle around the netminder before Zosiak again tried his luck – this time seeing a 5-hole bound slapshot from the left circle blocked by Colclough in the dying moments.
After a tentative opening frame few would have expected the second period blitz that followed immediately after the restart. Sometimes criticised for dreary middle period slumps the Mos did the exact opposite with 3 goals within just over five minutes to leave Streatham needing to regroup. At 20.32 Elliott Dewey’s blue line shot was tipped beyond Matt Colclough by Adam Rehak with the import momentarily wrestling himself free of Jacob Ranson’s man marking job to divert home and make it 1-0. By 22.19 it was 2-0 – Nicky Lewis finding Ondrej Zosiak back on the blue line and the Slovak thumping a slapshot over the glove of the netminder from distance to double his team’s lead. The Dynamos now rampant, the onslaught continued – Colclough at his best to deny Tommy Ralph’s backhand in front and Steve Osman’s shot from the edge of the crease but totally exposed as Scott Bailey lifted the rebound over grounded shot stopper to add the third at 25.02. Visiting coach Jeremy Cornish called a timeout to stop the rot and when both Zosiak and Fowler were sent to the box within seconds of each other Streatham had a prolonged 5-on-3. At 27.21 they finally answered – Adam Wood passing to Jack Tarczycki on the blue line and the defenceman’s thunderbolt through traffic left Damien King no chance to cut the deficit to 3-1. It was a minor blip for the hosts in an otherwise perfect period as, undeterred, they went back on the attack to put the game out of sight. At 35.38 Mason Webster carried the puck into the final third and found Ashley Jackson near post who swept to the back stick where Rehak had slipped Ranson and forced in at point blank range. The clock stopped again at 36.10 – Ondrej Zosiak’s mazy skate pulling Streatham’s defence out of position before his low shot to the far post was poked over the line by the on-rushing Callum Fowler. Frustration then got the better of Streatham’s Ryan Giles who was given 2 for slashing and then watched on as a sixth goal followed at 39.42 – Rehak’s long diagonal to the back post finding Jackson who dispatched over the line to secure a huge 6-1 lead – 9-4 on aggregate.
After a phenomenal second period the Dynamos looked to keep it simple and complete the job early in the last – Joshua Condren testing Matt Colclough from the left circle before a giveaway put Sean Scarbrough clear but his effort was off the post. Anthony Baskerville then secured one of the biggest cheers of the night – his open ice hit on Alexander Sampford ending the Streatham man’s speedy counter. At 49.06 the scoring then resumed with a moment of brilliance from Callum Fowler – the captain with a beautiful stick shift that left Daniel Rose looking for the puck whilst Fowler roofed over the netminder on the backhand for 7-1. A miserable night took a further turn for the worse for Streatham at 52.54 – Rose chucked from the tie for spearing to leave his team killing a lengthy powerplay. With time winding down the Dynamos took the opportunity to give John Dibble the ice time his loyalty deserved as he replaced King between the posts whilst the Redhawks also pulled Colclough in favour of youngster Brett Shepherd who was now making his senior debut. Dibble was quickly forced into action as he and Elliott Dewey combined to deny a Callum Best breakaway whilst Shepherd made his first stop – an instinctive pad save thwarting Mason Webster from the edge of the crease. The young shot stopper would face a tough final few minutes though as his beleaguered defence allowed a firing Mos to run riot with three goals in 71 seconds in the dying moments. At 58.38 Webster’s centring pass found Jackson at the near post and he quickly diverted the puck into the bottom far corner to make it 8-1. Number 9 came at 59.22 – Liam Rasmussen’s attempt at stopping Rehak dancing around him now just a token gesture as the Czech then broke clear and beat Shepherd with quick hands to complete his hat-trick. Another hat-trick was rounded odd at 59.49 – Steve Osman’s from between the circles teeing up Fowler close right and the captain poked beyond the netminder on the stretch to complete the rout.
So it was an emphatic win for the Dynamos and an extraordinary performance that fired the team into the playoff final with a big shot of confidence to go with that place amongst the last two. Man of the match awards went to Adam Rehak of the hosts whilst Joe Johnston took the spoils for Streatham in his last appearance for the London side. Johnston and Liam Rasmussen would now hang up their skates and were treated by a guard of honour from both teams as the visitors made their way from the ice.
Written by Paul Bennett.