Season ends after playoff loss to Bison

basingstoke_180318The 2017/18 campaign has come to a close for the Invicta Dynamos after a 7-1 home defeat to league champions the Basingstoke Bison on Sunday halted their playoff challenge by an aggregate score of 13-1.

Coming into what would be their final outing of the season the Mos had a team of 16 – Ross Connolly and John Dibble their absentees. Basingstoke also iced 16 players. Damien King and Dean Skinns were the starting goalies.

Despite carrying a 6-0 lead from the first leg the night before, the Bison were relentless in the opening period and had lit the lamp after just 25 seconds. Kurt Reynolds exploited an overcommitting Dynamos defence by threading a pass through to Tomas Karpov on the breakaway and the import sold Damien King a neat deke before flicking home for 1-0. At 02.33 the Czech was on the money again – Joshua Smith’s shot from between the circles hitting the netminder’s pads and Karpov roofing home the rebound from point blank right.

Tommy Ralph tested Dean Skinns with a blue line slap shot but the Bison continued to dominate the chances with Tomas Karpov forcing a save from Damien King close right and Grant Rounding denied a back-post tap-in as the netminder moved swiftly across his crease. At 11.10 a clumsy hit by Kurt Reynolds sent Brandon Webster sprawling into the boards and Scott Bailey jumped on the defenceman resulting in a spell of 4-on-4. A charging minor on Mason Webster then gave Basingstoke the extra man and they converted at 13.12 for a 3-0 lead. From the right circle Karpov found Rounding clear in front and he turned beyond King with one touch for the powerplay strike.

Ryan Sutton was unlucky not to extend that lead further when he clattered the fame of the goal from close left before the Mos mustered a few chances late on. Scott Bailey used the defenceman as a screen in the slot to force a quick reaction save from Dean Skinns before Louis Colvin turned just wide of the far post with a shot on the fall from close right. Before the buzzer Brandon Webster then put down a marker with a hefty hit in front of the Bison bench that floored Joshua Smith and ended his involvement in the tie.

In the second frame the Basingstoke onslaught was less severe though Aaron Connolly continued to prove a handful as he forced Damien King into a glove save with a drive from the high slot and then hit the post with a shot on the spin close left. At 28.05 the Bison added a fourth – Tomas Karpov again involved as he played the puck from behind the goal line to Grant Rounding in the left circle and he tucked beyond the netminder with a one-timer.

The intensity of the tie then went up a notch as Mason Webster sent Hallam Wilson to the ice and Ivan Antonov handed out the same treatment to Brandon Webster. In front of net Ashley Jackson’s teasing cross-ice pass to the back post was just an inch out of reach of the on-rushing Jake Stedman before Steve Osman side stepped his marker wide right and fired into the mask of replacement goalie Dan Weller-Evans. Down the other end Basingstoke thought they had a fifth at 39.58 as Daniel Scott’s shot from wide right looked to have evaded the pad of Damien King at his near post but the referee concluded that the puck was not across the line and no goal was given.

In the final period the Bison did not have to wait long for their fifth – the clock stopping at 41.30 as Roman Malinik centred for Grant Rounding who tucked beyond the netminder to complete his hat-trick. By 43.59 it was then 6-0 – having so far been outshone by fellow countryman Tomas Karpov, Czech forward Malinik turned on the style as he took the puck out of his own zone, down the left channel, skipped inside the challenge of Steve Osman and roofed over King from the right circle.

The Dynamos continued to search for a way to break their duck but Scott Bailey could only pick out the mask of Dan Weller-Evans from close right whist Ryan Morgan drilled into the pads of the netminder with a slapshot from the blue line. A hefty hit by Mason Webster on Aaron Connolly provided Bailey the puck for another chance in the left circle but again the goalie made the save. At 51.32 Weller-Evans was then in need of a breather as Ashley Jackson and Kurt Reynolds battled for position in front of net and the shot stopper was accidentally caught with a wayward stick but he was able to continue and no penalties were given.

Despite time winding down the Bison managed to add another late on – Roman Malinik picking out the on-rushing Dan Scott between the circles and he rifled beyond Damien King for 7-0 at 57.39. The last of the night belonged to the Dynamos though as the hosts finally found a way through to give the fans something to celebrate before the lengthy off-season break. At 57.58 Jaroslav Cesky set Steve Osman free and he picked out the bottom far corner from the back of the left circle for the final goal of 2017/18.

So it was a hefty 7-1 defeat for the Mos – 13-1 on aggregate – but they were always up against it having drawn the NIHL South’s newly crowned champions. Man of the match awards went to Basingstoke hat-trick hero Grant Rounding and Invicta scorer Steve Osman.

Written by Paul Bennett.

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