It was a game 20 years in the making as the Invicta Dynamos overcame a team of Invicta Legends 6-5 on Sunday night to bring an end to the 2016/17 campaign and celebrate two decades of the club at the SilverBlades Gillingham.
Party fever took over at the SilverBlades as fans packed the rink to welcome home their playoff champions but also to greet those who had helped bring back the other 18 honours that crowd the club’s trophy cabinet. A Dynamos side missing Adam Rehak faced off against a team of legends – 25 players making their returns to Kent and some from as far afield as Canada.
Each side had the luxury of three netminders on their roster and it was Damien King for the Mos and Andy Moffat for the Legends that began between the pipes in period one. Despite youth not necessarily being on their side, it was the old guard who started quicker – former captain Karl Lennon pinching the puck in the left corner and finding Peter Korff close left who roofed over King’s shoulder near post on the backhand at 01.35. Current captain Callum Fowler would have cancelled out his effort but for an athletic save from Moffat before the Legends were threatening again – Juraj Huska and Phil Chard escaping 2-on-1 with the Slovak unselfishly passing to the former player / coach but King’s quick glove denied him his moment. Grant Baxter then tipped Alex Shaw’s blue line drive just inches over the bar before the Mos came knocking late on to restore order. At 14.21 Elliott Dewey’s pass sent Fowler through all alone and, whilst Scotsman Moffat rolled back the years to rob the forward of an equaliser, Ashley Jackson had the easy task of tucking in the rebound close right for 1-1. At 16.04 the Dynamos then led 2-1 – Ondrej Zosiak firing towards the near post from back on the blue line and Steve Osman diverting over Moffat with the deftest of redirects for a fantastic go ahead goal – the Mos returning to the changing rooms one up.
In the second period it was the turn of John Dibble to stand in net for the playoff champions whilst Canadian Murray Tester took his place between the sticks at the other end for the Legends. Dibble was tested first – Peter Carey finding Martin Rider right in front but the Bristol man coming out on top to preserve his team’s lead. That was until 27.00 – Dibble’s enthusiastic diving poke check leaving him out of place as Juraj Huska then fired onto the post before Justin Noble gathered a loose puck and swept home for 2-2. Their time on an even footing was short-lived – 42 seconds in fact – as the Dynamos replied at 27.42 – Scott Bailey picking out Steve Osman in the left circle who played the puck on to the back post for the onrushing Joshua Condren to prod home. Murray Tester looked to be set for another challenge when Ashley Jackson escaped in on the breakaway soon after but Damien Welch stopped just short of climbing aboard his man for a piggyback to end the Olympian’s attack. The Mos would breakthrough twice more before the period was out though – the first at 32.36 as Condren broke at speed down the right channel before a pass to the other side of goal that Osman poked over the line to make it 4-2. At 33.18 it was 5-2 – Bailey gathering Osman’s pass in front and controlling with one touch before sweeping under Tester with a second for a three goal cushion. The Legends had Tester to thank for not falling further behind – the Canadian giving it the full starfish to deny Ashley Jackson an easy rebound after Tommy Ralph had hit the post from distance.
The final frame saw James Richardson take to net for the Dynamos whilst EPL winning Matt Van Der Velden took the last shift for the Legends. Richardson was called on first – his glove hand fully warmed up from bidding on his teammates jerseys at the end of season shirt auction just two days before and primed to pull off a showy save from Martin Rider at close range. However he was beaten at 43.17 – defenceman Danny Scott showing why he plies his trade in the league above with a skate down the left wing and shot high over the reach of the netminder into the top far corner for 5-3. Just 23 seconds later, at 43.40, it was 5-4 – Justin Noble beating two down the right channel before heading to net and rifling low beyond Richardson into the bottom far corner to cut the deficit to one. Not wanting to be shown up by their predecessors the Dynamos replied quickly – Tommy Ralph’s shot from the right boards bouncing awkwardly to catch out Van Der Velden allowing Steve Osman to fire in from inside the crease to complete his hat-trick at 45.46. Soon after Alex Shaw – who made his name in Kent as a defenceman – escaped on a breakaway for the Legends only to be denied by the post before the old guard notched again at 51.54. Having caused havoc in Gillingham both for and against the Dynamos, Juraj Huska was at it again as he stole the puck against the left boards, skated across the crease and tucked inside the right post to cut the deficit to 6-5. The Legends did their best to force an equaliser but it was the Mos who came closest to another – Callum Fowler’s pinpoint diagonal finding Scott Bailey close left but Van Der Velden winding back the clock with a big trademark stop.
So it was 6-5 to the current crop come the final buzzer though in truth the result was irrelevant. The night was an excellent celebration of 20 years of the Dynamos – the heroes of yesterday and the playoff champions of today combining for an entertaining round-off to the 2016/17 campaign. Man of the match awards went to hat-trick hero Steve Osman of the Mos whilst Canadian Justin Noble took the spoils for the Legends having completed a brace.
Written by Paul Bennett.