GILLINGHAM, UK – The 2013/14 campaign reached its conclusion for the Invicta Dynamos on Sunday evening after the side were edged out of the NIHL Southern Playoffs at the semi-final stage following a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of the Wightlink Raiders.
With a 4-3 deficit to overcome from the night before the Dynamos had work to do back at the Silver Blades but their early efforts were hampered by an aggressive start from their guests. NIHL South Player of the Year Callum Fowler was a clear target for the visitors – Craig Tribe catching him in the face against the boards in the opening minute before Simon Hobbis was later cross checking him behind the play. It was on a delayed penalty that the first goal of the night nearly came – Chris Douglas rushing from his net for the extra forward allowing Daniel Hammond’s misplaced back pass to almost creep into the empty target. Having survived the scare the Mos then surged forward – Anthony Leone gifting them momentum with a thumping hit on Kieran Annis against the boards that left the Raider unable to continue. Shortly after play restarted the Dynamos then took the lead – the clock stopping at 13.04 when Nicky Lewis stepped in from the left boards and roofed into the top far corner from the left circle for 1-0. At 17.26 that lead was then doubled – Daniel Hammond crossed the blue line, sold his man a dummy slapshot to skip inside and then drove into the bottom right corner from deep for the 5-4 aggregate lead.
After concerning themselves with too many behind the play scuffles in the opening frame, Wightlink applied themselves more meaningfully in the second and were soon battling for an equaliser – a leveller they would have had but for the quick glove of Chris Douglas as he reacted swiftly to prevent Matt Vizzari’s low goal bound wrist shot. The shot stopper could only do so much though and at 29.50 the visitors replied – Loris Taylor seeing his first effort from the back of the right circle blocked by the goalie but following up and finding the top corner immediately after to make it 2-1 on the night and level on aggregate. It was to be the only strike of a period that had seemed far more scrappy than the first with the Raiders executing the effective and disciplined tactics for which player-coach Jeremy Cornish is famous and essentially suffocating the Dynamos forwards. That meant it was 5-5 on aggregate and, after 100 minutes of hockey, it would all come down to the final 20 to decide who would make the Playoff Final.
In the last period the Dynamos were looking to assert their authority in front of their own fans but they conceded at 42.47 to fall behind in the tie. Richard Facey had possession behind the net and threaded the needle to pick out Matt Vizzari in the slot – the Canadian controlling and then sending a wrist shot into the bottom right corner for 2-2 – a 6-5 lead over both legs. The hosts then came agonisingly close to a leveller almost immediately after but Callum Fowler’s pass across the crease had just too much pace for the on-rushing Andy Smith to convert at the back post. A Daniel Hammond penalty then halted their attack and his hooking minor would prove costly at 46.00 as the Raiders struck for the third time on the night to lead 3-2. Chris Douglas initially did well to deny both Alex Barker’s long drive and Richard Facey’s follow up at point blank range but, now grounded, he was powerless to stop Facey firing in at the second attempt for the 7-5 aggregate edge. It was to prove a defining moment in the game with the Dynamos unable to respond against Wightlink’s determined closing down and ultimately falling short even when pulling their netminder late on.
So it was a playoff exit come the buzzer and a 3-2 home loss that brought with it the end of the 2013/14 campaign for the Dynamos. Man of the match awards went to Nicky Lewis of the hosts whilst Alex Barker took the spoils for the Raiders who deserved to progress after a tactically solid display and some clinical finishing that seized the tie.
With Invicta game report