The Under 15 Invicta Mavericks travelled to Milton Keynes to play the Under 15 Milton Keynes Storm on Sunday 17 March for the final time this season. With the first three games all being closely contested, the Mavs were looking to build on their win at Planet Ice Gillingham in January to split the 4-game season series.
Mavericks netminder Harvey Bryden passed a late fitness test to take his place between the Invicta pipes. With key defenceman Will Williams unavailable for selection, younger brother Ollie slotted in on the Invicta blueline for the opening face-off.
1st Period – The Storm started the game strongly and had Invicta penned in their defensive zone for the early exchanges. #31 Bryden was forced to make a couple of good saves to keep the game scoreless, but as the Mavericks’ confidence grew they started to ask questions of MK, with #15 Wagg testing the Storm goalie. An unfortunate breakaway on 5:40 allowed the Storm’s top goalscorer to race clear and finish confidently. The set back was further compounded on 8:22 when Wagg was given a 10 minute misconduct for shooting the puck after the whistle. Invicta did not let their heads drop and continued to battle hard, with #35 Webb singled out for some rough treatment that went unpenalised by the Ref. Invicta tied the game on 11:05 when an effort from Captain and #46 Bell was saved and #6 Chard followed up sharply to roof the rebound into the Storm net. Milton Keynes continued to ask questions of Invicta, but a combination of good defending and strong goaltending, saw the period finish at 1-1, with the shot count 10-6 in the hosts’ favour.
2nd Period – Invicta came out strongly for the start of the middle frame and had a couple of chances to take the lead, but it was the Storm who seized the advantage on 16:43 when another breakaway resulted in a goal to put MK 2-1 in front. Again the Mavs regrouped and stayed strong, and just a minute later a nice pass from #10 Prentice sent #56 Davies clear of the Storm defence and he gave the MK goalie no chance with a well-place wrist shot. Two back-to-back penalties for the Storm presented the Mavericks with an extended 5 on 3 advantage, which they could not take advantage of. Invicta then returned the favour to the hosts after a couple of unfortunate penalties called in quick succession on #54 Chard and #76 Williams, but again the team with the additional two players could not trouble te scorekeeper. A scrappy period littered with minor penalties ended 2-2, with shots on goal 11-8 in favour of MK.
3rd Period – With the game delicately poised and two points on the line, it was the Mavs who seized the initiative on 31:27. A nice pass from Williams sent Wagg clear on the right wing and he centred for Brandon Chard to finish confidently for his second of the adternoon to give Invicta the lead for the first time in the game. The Storm were clearly not expecting this and indiscipline started to creep into their game. Invicta continued to play well, creating scoring opportunities in the offensive zone, whilst defending resolutely in their own zone as a team, with key contributions across all three lines. Invicta maintained their discipline as Milton Keynes lost theirs. Two MK players received two 2+10 penalties, for boarding on Webb and checking to the head of Brandon Chard. Against the run of play, it was the Storm who scored on 41:35 from close in front to tie the game at 3-3. But a powerplay opportunity was grasped by the Mavericks on 42:40. Some sustained Invicta pressure created a scramble in the Storm crease, the puck broke to Bell and his shot saved, but Brandon Chard was on hand to force to puck over the goal line to complete his hat-trick and send the Invicta supporters wild. The mood on the Invicta bench was temporarily dampened somewhat when (yet another) cynical play saw a further Storm player ejected from the game after a hit to the head of Invicta’s hat-trick hero. The resulting penalty did nullify any hopes the Storm had of scoring as the Mavericks confidently closed out the game to take a hard-fought two points and move to 4th in EIHA U15 South Division 2.
Man of the Match went to #6 Brandon Chard, with Spirit of the Game awarded to #35 Ethan Webb.
The Mavericks are next in action on the weekend of 6th and 7th April, with a home double-header against the U15 Solent Junior Devils and the U15 Peterborough Phantoms.