Until this weekend, Bristol’s goals against average was the best in the league. In their previous five games they had only conceded a total of nine goals. But, Invicta drew Bristol into an old fashioned run-and-gun shoot-out that was certainly not what Head Coach Jamie Elson had planned for his team.
He said: “Two points is two points and we will take them however we earn them. But it was a crazy game and certainly not to the game plan we have in place and has proved successful so far. But is was certainly an exciting and entertaining one for the fans.”
Invicta travelled with a short bench due to a series of injury problems in their squad and looked like they could be in for a long night when Cain Russell opened the scoring just two minutes into the game.
Invicta replied with a quick powerplay goal before both goalies took control of a fairly even first period, albeit a feisty one with tensions rarely far from the surface. Mason Lipsey looked like he had secured Bristol a lead at the first break but Invicta’s Anthony Leone tied it all up with eight seconds left in the period.
The tension finally boiled over three minutes into the third period. Richie Hargreaves took offence at a cross check by Invicta’s Mason Webster, resulting in both players squaring up to each other. Both were ejected after resisting the officials attempts to break them up but Bristol got the man advantage from Webster’s cross checking penalty.
It would be Invicta who would score short-handed through their man of the match, Tom Davis, to give Invicta their only lead of the game.
That goal brought a new focus to Bristol as they started to dominate play. Bailey Perre tied the game up just one minute later, sparking a long period where Invicta continually felt the wrath of referee Ryan Thrower.
Two goals in the space of 14 seconds just before the half way mark, one from Bristol Man of the Match Olly Shone and the other from Joe Morris, and a sixth five minutes later through Loris Taylor, gave Bristol a comfortable looking three goal lead at the second break.
Any hope that Bristol could finish the game off quickly and perhaps rest legs a little before the following night’s trip to league leaders Streatham were quickly dispelled when Invicta pulled back two goals inside the first five minutes of the third period.
What followed was a frenzied six minutes where Bristol would extend their lead three times only to see a quick goal by Invicta crawl it back. Taylor and Shone bagged their second of the game before Josh Shaw scored a beautiful goal despite being brought down by Invicta’s Henry Aiken. At 16 years and 23 days, he became the youngest player ever to score for the club.
Bristol were given one final scare when netminder Tyler Perre had to leave injured with six minutes left in the game. However, John Dibble turned away all the shots he faced to make sure Pitbulls retained their 100% home record.
Elson said: “We really didn’t finish them off when we had chances to get out of reach and ultimately it almost cost us. Its’s something we will need to look at and address. But credit to the team. They stayed with it and kept finding goals each time Invicta clawed us back. And there were some big ones in there.
“The rink was packed out again and the atmosphere was unbelievable so just really pleased we sent everyone home happy with a Bristol Win. And for us as a new and young team a big win against the second place team.”