It’s all to play for in the NIHL Southern Cup Final after the 1st leg saw the Invicta Dynamos claim a moral victory in Chelmsford.
Despite losing the game 4-3 on Saturday night, Kevin Parrish’s side will go into Sunday’s 2nd leg in Gillingham with a real sense of belief that they can go on and win some silverware this season.
Chelmsford went into Saturday night’s game as favourites and the Dynamos were missing talisman Ashley Jackson who was already committed to playing hockey for East Grinstead, whilst there was no Bailey Wootton on the roster with twins Taylor and Haydn already missing through injury.
It was the home side that started the game the stronger, and after a brief delay when the lights went out just before face off, it came as no real surprise when they opened the scoring in the 3rd minute through Jake Sylvester with Liam Chong and Juraj Huska unlocking the Dynamos defence.
Less than a minute later though and the scores were level when Ondrej Zosiak went coast to coast and despite forcing a save from Ben Clements, Steve Osman was on hand to poke home.
Despite repeatedly finding they didn’t get many calls go their way from referee Blaine Evans, the Dynamos nudged their way in front in the 13th minute as again Zosiak, along with Tommy Ralph, turned provider for Osman to score.
At 2-1 going into the 2nd period, the Dynamos knew the home side would come at them hard and that they did.
It took just 64 seconds for Sean Barry to equalise, firing his shot off the arm of the Dynamos netminder Damien King.
Just three minutes later and the home side were in front as Huska ducked out from behind the goal to score past King from a tight angle.
With both sides down to four men each in the 29th minute, the Chieftains again showed why they won the league this season with Huska again scoring from a tight angle.
This is where the Dynamos could have folded, but they showed great resolve and were fully prepared to roll their sleeves up and scrap.
After much provocation from the home side, it was little surprise things became a little tetchy going into the final period and the Dynamos came out of the blocks racing.
They were rewarded on a powerplay in the 45th minute as Adam Rehak blasted home from close range, with the home side protesting the goal shouldn’t have stood.
The final fifteen minutes of the game saw end to end action with the Dynamos giving as good as they got.
A clash in the 53rd minute saw Huska land a sucker punch on Harrison Lillis, but it all kicked off seconds later as Mason Webster and Carl Graham went toe to toe with the Dynamos clearly the winner.
The ensuing melee saw Liam Chong thrown out of the game for being the third man into the fight, whilst there had to be a long delay as the rink maintenance were called to clean the ice of all the blood that had poured from Graham’s forehead.
Those final few minutes saw no more goals or fights, but had the Dynamos fans on their feet singing them all the way home.
A one goal loss at Chelmsford will be seen as a decent result for the Dynamos who will now go into Sunday evening’s 2nd leg full of confidence and belief.
With Ashley Jackson back amongst them and buoyed by a season’s best crowd, anything is possible.
Doors open at 4:30pm with face off in Gillingham at 5:15pm for a game that’s surely not to be missed.