A shortbenched Invicta Dynamos were unable to compete with the clinical finishing of the London Raiders on Saturday night as the visitors found twine seven times to run out 7-1 winners in the NIHL South Division 1 tie.
The Raiders brought with them a roster of 18, with Andrew Munroe and Callum Burnett their absentees, and a sizeable travelling support. The Mos had 15 and were minus Ashley Jackson, Sebastian Downing, Tom Long, Joshua Condren and Damien King – mostly through illness and injury.
The Dynamos endured a torrid start to the opening period as the visitors surged into a two goal lead inside the opening four minutes. The first of the pair came at 01.41 – Brandon Ayliffe gathering possession in the left corner and finding Oliver Baldock alone between the circles and he fired high over the left hand of John Dibble to make it 1-0. At 03.42 it was 2-0 – a long clearance out from the back putting Juraj Huska 1-on-1 with Ondrej Zosiak and Huska sold his fellow countryman a delightful dummy wide right before slamming into the bottom far corner with a slapshot.
Despite the early setbacks the Mos slowly edged their way into the tie as the period wore on but were just unable to get themselves on the scoreboard mostly due to the excellent shot stopping of netminder Michael Gray. Louis Colvin was denied from the slot before Brandon Webster’s stick work left Jake Pitchley chasing shadows but he too saw his drive from wide right pushed clear. At the other end Tom Davis came even closer for the visitors as his shot from the right channel found the inside of the far post and bounced clear. Late on Harrison Lillis almost flicked home from the edge of the crease whilst Tommy Ralph attempted to squeeze an effort inside the near post from the right circle but Gray once again stood firm.
In the second period the Dynamos continued to create chances but without reward as both Scott Bailey and Mason Webster were denied in the opening minutes whilst George Hoang tried to pick out the top far corner from the left circle but Michael Gray saved again. It was slightly against the run of play then when the Raiders extended their lead at 24.49 – Marek Nahlik took possession from an offensive faceoff in the left circle and roofed over the shoulder of John Dibble inside the near top corner for 3-0.
Midway through Mason Webster clattered Julian Smith into the boards seemingly from behind but Smith had turned his back to the forward just an instant before impact making contact unavoidable. With no intent and no injury, no penalties were given. When play restarted the Mos continue to look for their first of the night – Louis Colvin beating two in the left circle but Jaroslav Cesky could not convert his pass to the back post with Gray in the way again whilst Webster saw a snapshot from close left diverted wide off the upper portion of the netminder’s stick. They were frustrated even further when the visitors then netted another at 35.37 with a lethal counter – Juraj Huska carrying the play into the final third down the left channel and passing to Olegs Lascenko in the right circle who smashed over John Dibble with a one-timer for 4-0.
At 39.42 the hosts finally broke their duck – Jaroslav Cesky evading the challenge of Tom Davis behind the goal line and flicking to George Hoang alone in the slot who converted beyond Michael Gray to deservedly get the hosts on the board.
Going into the final frame the score arguably flattered the Raiders with the difference between the sides so far the clinical finishing of the visiting forwards and excellent shot stopping of Michael Gray. However, London dominated much of the third period to run out comfortable winners come the final buzzer. At 40.33 they had added a fifth – an incisive move from back to front ended with Olegs Lascenko entering the final third down the right side before passing to an unguarded Juraj Huska left of the target who swept inside the left post first time for the four goal lead. Soon after they nearly had another as Mark Nahlik danced around Arran Strawson close left, flicked the puck onto the inside of the far post and then watched as it bounced agonisingly along the goal line and clear.
At 45.51 the visitors did tally another – a quick piece of tic-tac-toe unlocking the home defence with Juraj Huska deep right finding Matt Turner in the left circle and he picked out Olegs Lascenko for the back post tap-in that made it 6-1. Another, and the last of the night, followed at 51.12 – the Mos a man up with Oliver Baldock in the box but Tommy Ralph accidentally gifted possession to Marek Nahlik right in front of the net and the import made no mistake with the finish to tally shorthanded.
At 52.47 Jake Pitchley sent Brandon Webster tumbling by stepping across his path hip first leaving the Mos man nowhere to go but spiralling into the air and this seemed to be the catalyst for a bad tempered end to the tie. Webster had a plane ticket again moments later as he went head first over Michael Gray as the goalie rushed from his crease to freeze the play but all contact was minimal and unintentional with neither party picking up penalties. However at 59.42 the gloves did come off albeit briefly – Tom Davis intentionally whacking Mason Webster to the skates with his stick prompting a shove from behind by Ondrej Zosiak before both Davis and Arran Strawson tossed the mitts for the quickest of bouts. Strawson landed the only blows before pulling his opponent’s shirt over the head but as Davis briefly stepped away the linesmen intervened to end the scrap prematurely.
So it was a hefty 7-1 defeat for the Dynamos who didn’t reap the rewards for their efforts in the opening two periods and then faded in the third with the visiting Raiders far more clinical in front of net. Man of the match awards went to George Hoang of the hosts and Olegs Lascenko of the Raiders.
Written by Paul Bennett.