GILLINGHAM, KENT – Invicta Dynamos have a fan base used to success however in recent seasons the trophy cabinet has picked up a bit of dust. Defenseman Arran Strawson is happy that this season, the Mo’s are in a position to assert themselves at the top again.
Although early in the season, Invicta Dynamos hard fought 3-2 home win over rivals London Raiders was a significant one. The visitors may be slightly weaker than last year, but defeating them removes not only a physical but also a mental barrier that the Mo’s had to overcome in front of their own fans.
“This year the team have gelled pretty quickly” explained Sheffield born blue liner Strawson.
“There is already more respect within the squad and a team spirit which is always key for any team that wants to win trophies”
The cohesion within the team was always likely to be the biggest test for Mo’s Coach Kevin Parrish as he brought in eight new faces to a squad that promised much but delivered little last season.
Goal machines Jakub Klima, Danny Hammond and Juraj Huska joined in the summer from Streatham, Chelmsford and Romford respectively to add firepower, while former Bracknell goalie Chris Douglas and agitator Alan Lack were signed to add the missing pieces to the Dynamos puzzle.
Some critics would say that the prospective strength of the roster is not a new quality for the Dynamos to possess as in recent seasons they have looked strong in theory.
“Last season was a funny season because on paper we had a very strong team but when it came to putting on a display out on the ice, it was very hit and miss” said 26 year old Strawson,
“This season we have the best forwards from this league for the last 3-4 seasons so straight away in training the level and pace is of a high standard and as a defenseman it means I get a good workout”
The Dynamos also had a good workout prior to the season as they played two challenge games against Peterborough Phantoms from the English Premier League.
Although both games ended in defeat for the lower ranked Dynamos, there were plenty of positives for the team to take from their performances.
“First thing I noticed was their speed and fitness levels” said Strawson, who was made alternate captain last week in the absence of Nicky Lewis.
“Obviously they had four imports which helps, but Brit for Brit I thought we more than matched them. It was great to test ourselves against higher league opposition and shows people that NIHL teams are improving”
Originally from Sheffield, Yorkshire; Strawson is joined this season by two new faces from the Steel city in the shape of exciting young prospects Elliott Knell and Shaun Wild.
The connection with Sheffield players has been a theme for Kevin Parrish as he casts his recruitment net ever further to search for talent and if either of the new boys are as effective as the outgoing Tim Smith was for the Dynamos then they will be excellent pick ups.
Sheffield emerged as one of the UK’s powerhouses of junior development in the last decade thanks to an unrivalled investment in facilities in the city thanks to the construction of the twin pad Ice Sheffield to add to and then eventually replace the old Queens Road rink.
“I started playing hockey in Queens Road and back then think we had one of the best junior set ups in the country and still do to be honest” said Strawson.
“I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time when the city got the new facility. We all got plenty of ice time which is obviously key when you are growing up”
“As a kid I always played defence so it is my natural position” when asked if returning to the blue line with the Mo’s after playing forward for Wightlink was an issue.
“I enjoy playing both roles and think it’s good to know that my teams can use me where ever suited”
Playing for the Dynamos has always brought with it a little more pressure than perhaps playing for other teams in the league, but this year brings a weight of expectation that Strawson and his team mates will have to tackle together as a unit if they want success.
“I am glad we are tipped as favourites as we have set our goals on winning some silverware this year” admitted Strawson, who then revealed that he has already been a victim of early team unity.
“Everybody has fitted straight in on and off the ice, but I have to say I fell victim to the first prank of the year, as I walked out to see my car literally covered in Dynamos branded stickers”
“When I say covered I mean literally covered but it is a long season and payback will be sweet”
This weekend the Dynamos face a team hoping to unleash instant payback as London Raiders host them at Lee Valley ice centre. If Invicta can overcome that hurdle then Strawson and his team mates will be one small early step to achieving their target.
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