It was a heart-breaking 4-3 overtime defeat for the Invicta Dynamos against the Milton Keynes Thunder on Sunday as they battled back from 3-1 down in the last to push the tie to sudden death before losing out when 3-on-3.
The Dynamos were short of bodies coming into the tie – Ross Connolly, Ryan Morgan, Joshua Condren and John Dibble all missing out reducing the home side to just 14 players. The Thunder had 17 – Oliver Lord, Tom Carlon and Ryan Handisides their absentees. Damien King and Tom Annetts were the starting goalies.
In the opening frame the Mos started brightly as Jaroslav Cesky fired into the glove of the Thunder netminder from the slot and Arran Strawson showed some moves down the left channel before skating to the crease and sending a backhand flick into the goalie from close range. They then had a lucky escape at the other end as Tom Mboya fired to the crease from the left corner and puck bounced off the skate of Steve Osman towards his own net where it almost eluded Damien King. However the Mos returned to the attack and Ashley Jackson should perhaps have done better when he was found clear between the circles but Tom Annetts succeeded in keeping him at bay. The shot stopper’s resistance was broken at 12.21 though – Mason Webster feeding younger brother Brandon Webster down the left channel and he skated to the slot and rifled below the goalie to make it 1-0.
Milton Keynes attempted to pull level immediately but, on a 2-on-1, Hallden Barnes-Garner turned Ross Bowers’ pass to the back post over the target before Jamie Line also missed the goal when he was put clean through close right. Before the buzzer Louis Colvin then had an excellent chance to make it 2-0 as Ashley Jackson somehow evaded the attention of three to thread a pass to the forward alone between the circles but Tom Annetts produced another big save.
After an even opening frame that was edged by the Mos, the Thunder took control in the second. Damien King denied Greg Randall’s blue line drive through traffic and Tom Mboya’s backhand flick from close left but he would be beaten in slightly bizarre circumstances at 27.40. Jamie Line played the puck to the crease from the left corner where it caught the back of King’s stick then slipped behind his pads to make it 1-1. Milton Keynes upped the pressure with Lewis Christie’s one-timer then needing to be diverted wide by the home netminder to keep the scores level.
Midway through the frame tempers began to flare as Rio Grinnell-Parke and Michael Stratford both hit the deck after an innocuous tangle with Ondrej Zosiak. Stratford briefly needed medical attention whilst Grinnell-Parke pushed out at Zosiak but then lost interest as Mason Webster intervened. At 33.43 the visitors then tallied a go-ahead goal – from behind the net Ross Bowers flicked to Hallden Barnes-Garner on the left faceoff dot and he rifled beyond Damien King to put the Thunder 2-1 up.
At 37.49 tempers then boiled over – Rio Grinnell-Parke caught Scott Bailey to the face with a high stick and Mason Webster stepped in to start a fight with the Thunder man against the boards. Whilst this occurred the nearby Ross Green, also against the boards, threw punches at Webster prompting the now on his feet Bailey to enter the fracas for a bizarre 2-on-2 bout. When all players fell to the ice the Mos were punished far more severely than their counterparts – Webster getting 5+game for fighting and Scott Bailey 2+2 for fighting and game for 3rd man in. Ross Green of Milton Keynes controversially avoided a 3rd man in call and was given just 2+2 for fighting whilst Grinnell-Parke took 2 for high sticks and 2+2 for fighting. Arran Strawson’s anger at the calls saw him penalised with a 10 minute misconduct.
In the dying moments the period took another turn for the worse for the hosts – with just 3.6 seconds left on the clock and a faceoff in the offensive zone, Head Coach Kevin Parrish took the decision to pull his netminder in favour of another forward but the Thunder won possession and Greg Randall swept the length of the ice into the unguarded net with the puck crossing the line just before the buzzer.
Now 3-1 down and with a team of just 12, the Mos were up against it in the last but they continued to seek a way back into the tie. Steve Osman found Ashley Jackson back post but Tom Annetts scrambled across his line to make an excellent stop before Jaroslav Cesky thumped the upright with an effort from the slot. With the hosts pushing forward the Thunder looked dangerous on the counter – Jamie Line being robbed by the quick glove of Damien King on a breakaway and Hallden Barnes-Garner firing off the netminder from the left circle.
It looked as though time would be against the Dynamos but at 56.11 they tallied their second to pull within one – a scramble in the crease ended with Jaroslav Cesky turning in close left just as the referee blew his whistle sparking celebrations from the Mos and anger from the Thunder. The strike prompted an end-to-end last few minutes – Brandon Webster sweeping to the back stick where Ashley Jackson was again denied by Tom Annetts before Ross Bowers fired onto the left post from close right. At 58.58 Head Coach Kevin Parrish pulled his goalie a second time but this time it paid dividends – Steve Osman winning a faceoff in the left circle and Louis Colvin slamming beyond the netminder to make it 3-3 and take the tie to overtime.
In 3-on-3 sudden death the Thunder won the opening faceoff and were immediately on the front foot. As a result they had the game winning goal at 60.29 – Ross Bowers getting away from his marker close left and beating Damien King at his near post to take the victory.
So it would be a single point for the Dynamos who deserved credit for battling back from 3-1 to 3-3 with just 12 skaters following controversial penalties in the second but who will also be disappointed that they were unable to secure the win having pushed the game to overtime. Man of the match awards went to speedster Jamie Line of the visitors and Ondrej Zosiak of the hosts.
Written by Paul Bennett.