Standing in the Way – Invicta DynamosPosted: 07/09/2017
Home Ice: Gillingham Ice Bowl
Last season: 2nd NIHL 1 South, cup finalists, playoff winners
We’re there; the 2017/18 season for the Basingstoke Bison is two days away and given there’s a new podcast out tomorrow, we’re taking the opportunity tonight to look at the Bison’s first opponents in the form of the Invicta Dynamos.
For the last few years in NIHL 1 South, everyone has played second fiddle to Chelmsford and last season the best of the second fiddles was Invicta. The Dynamos have always been there or thereabouts the last few years but never managed to beat the monster.
It seemed to be the same last season as well; despite finishing top of the cup group, Chelmsford beat the Dynamos in the final. In the league, spells of inconsistency cost the Kent side dear as the Chieftains lost 1 game and drew 2 out of 28. The Dynamos put in good performances but finished 18 points behind their Essex rivals when the season ended.
Despite a mild scare against Milton Keynes in the first round, the Dynamos blew Streatham away in the playoff semi-finals with a 10-1 second leg win which set up yet another Chelmsford vs Invicta clash. Whatever Kev Parrish said to his team worked; an 8-3 win in Gillingham in the first leg put enough of a dent in the Chieftains armour that meant even a 4-2 loss in the second leg wasn’t enough. Invicta had killed the grand slam dream.
How they got here:
Since leaving the EPL in 2003, the Dynamos have been stalwarts of the 3rd tier with seven ENL 1 South titles in a row from 2003/04 – 2009/10.
Most people when they think of the Invicta Dynamos over the last few years think of Callum Fowler. Whilst imports have come and gone, Fowler has always found a way to put the puck in the back of the net. Bar half a season at Bracknell which ended when he didn’t get paid properly, he’s Dynamos through and through. In previous years he had been criticised for trying to do too much himself but when you’re capable of putting up 70 and 80 point seasons then you can forgive it to a degree.
It’s a slightly different looking side this season but you have to assume that Fowler and import forward Adam Rehak will likely see time together as the spearhead of the Dynamos’ attack. If teams can’t find a way to suss the combination out then the Dynamos will score goals from the top line.
The new boy:
It’s hard to look past the addition of Bobby Chamberlain for this new. Having been injured then released from his contract with the MK Lightning under something of a cloud, this doesn’t detract from the fact that if used properly that a fit Chamberlain will have an impact in this league.
A classic power forward, we may well see Chamberlain added to a line with Fowler and Rehak but it depends on how Coach Parrish wishes to spread the offence around the forward lines. Chamberlain as a space creator on the top line would make sense and he should be able to put points up with it. He can agitate but he’s not there to just get under people’s skin and I venture that he won’t be used as a third line grinder to crash and bang. Chamberlain has been signed to be the total package.
How will it go?
According to Elite Prospects, the average age of the Invicta Dynamos squad is less than 23 years old. For a second tier side to head into a season with that is impressive in itself. Arran Stawson is the only player aged 30 or above.
That’s not to say there’s not good experience in there. The netminding duo of Damien King and John Dibble have seen enough to be comfortable when called upon. King will be the starter but Dibble is rewarded for his determined performances when stepping in due to injuries last term. He deserves his shot.
Alongside Stawson, Tom Ralph, Harrison Lillis and Ondrej Zosiak are competent defenders that will give some much needed protection to the netminder.
Up front Fowler, Rehak and Chamberlain have the impressive Scott Bailey, a revelation when he joined following the demise of Manchester as well as some good physicality from Mason Webster.
The problem for Invicta is that this roster doesn’t look like it has as much in it as others we’ve looked at so far. Kev Parrish’s record in previous NIHL seasons can’t and shouldn’t be dismissed but there’s gaps in here. Youth and determination is fine and I think the netminding and defensive corps look OK but my big concern is where the goals are going to come from in terms of secondary offense.
Chamberlain will score, Rehak will score, Fowler will score. Say that is your top line; where do the goals come from elsewhere on this roster against some of the teams that we’ve seen already if those players are shut down? That’s the bit that I am struggling to get my head around at the moment when I look at the Dynamos.
It’s also not a big roster; 17 players including both netminders with 9 forwards is not a huge roster and for a club that as famed in previous years for being able to convince players to sign there, the oldest forward is 25 and that’s Fowler. Having a young group is not a bad thing but “where are the veteran level heads?” is my thinking on this.
I don’t want to sound like I am being too down on Invicta here because we all know what the club has been able to do in the past. They can sneak out results, they can find a way to blow games open. It’s the Dynamos way.
The problem this season is that with such a short roster, they appear to be in for more of an uphill struggle than they’ve had the last couple of years. Kev Parrish has apparently been brave in his roster building or he’s made the best of who he could convince to sign for him. However that’s the challenge of coaching; to make the best of what you have. If Invicta manage a top half finish this season then I think Parrish will have more than done his job.