Doubles from Ashley Jackson and Juraj Huska, plus a further strike from Mason Webster, saw the Invicta Dynamos claim the bragging rights from the first Kent v Essex derby of the season as they overcame the Chelmsford Chieftains 5-4 in Gillingham on Saturday night.
The Dynamos dominated the early moments of the game – Brandon Webster striking the near post from close right and then also being denied by Michael Gray when found all alone at the back stick moments later. The deserved breakthrough came soon after – at 03.48 Juraj Huska collected a pass in his own zone, broke down the right around Grant Bartlett, skipped inside beyond Cameron Bartlett and roofed into the top right corner on the backhand from between the circles for 1-0.
After the goal Anthony Leone fired into the pads of Michael Gray from the slot twice in the space of a few minutes before the Chieftains then replied against the run of play. At 09.34 Cameron Bartlett’s blue line stinger was too hot to handle for Ben Clements with the puck dropping behind him for the waiting James Pentecost to poke over the line. Following the leveller the game became much more even with the teams trading opportunities until the buzzer but it was the Mos who would net next to return back to the changing rooms one to the good. At 16.51 a goalmouth scramble involving Anthony Leone saw the puck fall to Ashley Jackson who sent a shot into the top right corner of the goal on the backhand from close right for 2-1.
In the second frame the hosts started better again and Brandon Webster was presented with a great opportunity on the inside edge of the left circle but fired straight down the gut of Michael Gray. Moments later and Juraj Huska struck the foot of the left post after a giveaway from Kian Lloyd but the third goal did finally come at 24.31. Despite falling to the ice Brandon Webster still finessed a pass through a disappearing gap to Ashley Jackson close right and he immediately swept low into the far corner of the goal for his second of the night.
It took four minutes for the Chieftains to hit back. Once again a Cameron Bartlett blue line shot proved key as he slammed the post from distance allowing the on-rushing Andrew Munroe to tuck in the rebound from close left for 3-2 at 28.55. The Mos were undeterred though and immediately went back on the front foot re-establishing their two goal cushion at 30.24. Brothers Mason and Brandon Webster worked tirelessly to keep the puck alive in the final third with Mason forcing to Juraj Huska at the back post who reacted quickly to make it 4-2.
As time wound down Ben Clements frustrated James Pentecost with a scramble across the crease that denied James Pentecost a back post tap in before, down the other end, Ashley Jackson hit the post when looking for the hat-trick following a one-two with Juraj Huska.
In the final frame Cameron Bartlett looked to have escaped on the breakaway but the combination of a well timed diving poke check from Harrison Lillis and a block from Ben Clements denied him. The save proved all the more valuable as the hosts then added to their tally at 44.02 – Stanislav Lascek made a skate to net from the right side before being intercepted causing the puck to break to Mason Webster point blank left who thumped into the net to make it 5-2.
Needing goals the Chieftains now pushed forward and Ben Clements had to be on form to deny James Pentecost after he found space close left but the visitor’s attacking stance also left gaps at the back on which Ashley Jackson almost capitalised but for Michael Gray palming his shot from the slot just over the bar. The visitors would pull within two at 54.08 though – yet another Cameron Bartlett blue line shot doing the damage as this time it took a bounce off the hip of Darren Brown on route leaving Clements helpless to make it 5-3.
After the comedy moment of netminder Michael Gray falling to the ice whilst scrambling to the bench to give Chelmsford the extra attacker not once but twice, the Chieftains then ensured a tense finale with a goal in the last minute. James Ayling scored arguably the best of the night as he went coast-to-coast – starting behind his own net and flying down the left before skipping inside the defenceman and beating Clements with a high backhand flick. It was a fine solo effort though for the Dynamos undoubtedly disappointing that he went unchallenged for three quarters of the ice.
Despite the push for a late comeback the clock was against the visitors and time wound down seeing them leave Gillingham without any league or cup points. The Dynamos were arguably good value for their narrow win – playing the better hockey on the night which hasn’t always been the case when facing off against their Essex rivals.
Man of the match awards went to Brandon Webster for the hosts and Darren Brown of the away side.