GILLINGHAM, UK – Captain Anthony Leone netted a hat-trick on Sunday night as the Invicta Dynamos powered past the Cardiff NIHL Devils 10-3 to claim an NIHL Southern Playoff Semi-final date with the Wightlink Raiders following a 16-5 aggregate win.
Despite leading 6-2 from the night before, the Mos flew out of the traps back on home ice and extended their lead at just 01.45 – Marek Nahlik’s long diagonal finding Daniel Hammond crossing the blue line down the right and the number 9 beating Mike Brabon low at his near post with a slapshot from deep.
A penalty to James Preece then gave them a spell with the extra man and they took advantage at 11.25 – Hammond again involved as he attempted to drive through the middle before losing out to a poke check – the puck finding Anthony Leone close left who drove in for 2-0.
Now leading 8-2 on aggregate at the start of the second, the Mos sought the opportunity to rack up an unassailable lead and achieved it by notching four more goals with only one coming in reply.
The first came on the powerplay at 24.43 – Callum Fowler darting behind the net before teeing up Juraj Huska at the back post with the Slovak slotting low back across the target for 3-0. At 26.09 it was then 4 – this time Andy Smith working the puck behind the goal line before teeing up an unmarked Fowler in the slot who fired in with one touch.
At 35.33 the hosts added another – Huska seizing on sloppy work by Josh Haslam in the neutral zone before a slapshot from deep that goalie Mike Brabon touched but could still not stop crossing the line for 5-0.
With the tie now well beyond their reach, Cardiff finally responded to cut into their deficit at 36.11 – Owen Griffiths sending Louis Lockwood in close right and the forward slotting in low across goal to break their duck. The Mos would have the final say of the frame though – Gareth Dixon’s missed interception on the home side’s blue line allowing Smith and Fowler to counter 2-on-1 – Smith eventually tucking in on the backhand from right in front for 6-1.
In the final frame, Cardiff switched netminder Mike Brabon for Luke Takel but the replacement shot stopper wouldn’t fare any better – conceding at 42.27 to see his team 7-1 behind. The Devils failed to clear their own zone thanks to work by Daniel Hammond and the forward then picked out Anthony Leone in the left circle who did the rest for his second of the night.
Not content with a pair the Dynamos captain then made it a hat-trick at 42.50 – Chris Cooke’s long drive from the blue line given up for the rebound and Leone in the right pace to convert from close range for 8-1. At 52.31 that substantial edge then became 9-1 – Cardiff again failing to remove the puck from their end allowing Callum Fowler to find Andy Smith in the left circle who rifled in for his second of the night. Double figures then seemed an inevitability and the hosts hit 10 on the powerplay at 54.40 – Huska’s pass back to Arran Strawson back on the blue line being met with a venomous slapshot that sent the puck into the top far corner for the 10-1 lead. By now the Mos had replaced shot stopper Chris Douglas with Davey Jackson and the club’s number 2 made a number of blocks before finally being beaten at 57.09.
Jamie Hayes saw his effort from the high slot thwarted by the pads of Jackson but Stephen Deacon followed up to give his team their second. They would then have a third on the powerplay at 59.06 – Shaun Wild robbed of the puck right in front by Josh Haslam who then left Jackson with no chance from point blank range to make it 10-3 come the buzzer.
So it was an emphatic win for the Dynamos and won that saw them hammer their Welsh opponents 16-5 on aggregate to secure a semi-final spot. Man of the match awards went to hat-trick hero Anthony Leone of the Mos whilst hot prospect Owen Griffiths took it after a night of graft for the visitors.
With Invicta fixture report