Invicta Dynamos have had their Southern Cup semi-final place confirmed but the team’s focus is on finishing the year with some positive league form.
The Mos came up against the two top sides in the division over the weekend - with cup progress confirmed following action elsewhere - and came away empty-handed despite battling well against Solent Devils and Streatham. Next up is a home match with bottom side Milton Keynes Thunder on Sunday.
Karl Lennon’s side will have a two week break before facing MK again and then Solent at home, three games his men are more than capable of getting results from.
Lennon said: “Our full focus is on the performance we put in this week and making sure come Sunday night we are ready to go and we get the result we need.
“Milton Keynes are not the team they were last year, a team that people would put big scores on, they have improved a huge amount.
“On the back of two defeats we know we have to get some wins on the board and start climbing that table.”
The Mos - sixth placed in an eight-team NIHL South Division 1 table - have a two-legged Southern Cup semi-final to look forward to in mid-January after their place was confirmed thanks to Chelmsford Chieftains’ 5-3 win over Oxford.
It was a tense time in the changing room for the Dynamos team waiting on that result, as they came off the ice following a 2-0 loss to Streatham.
Lennon said: “We struggle to get a phone signal in there and the score came through that it was 3-3 between Oxford and Chelmsford with a period left and that wasn’t good enough for us. Had it gone to overtime, the winners would have got two points and the losers a point." The Mos would have been eliminated.
Players and staff were hitting the refresh button on Twitter as Chelmsford went 5-3 up before Oxford pulled their goalie and got a goal back, making for a tense finish. A 5-4 win for the Chieftains clinched top spot in Group A of the Southern League Cup standings, with the Mos in second place.
"There was obvious disappointment on Sunday, because we had an opportunity (in the league game), but when the game is done you can’t change it, we were then elated with the news that came through (about the cup).
“We focus again on getting back on track and then we'll have two weeks off which will be good for us to get those carrying injuries back, and then of course it is good for players who are playing regularly to recover, two games a weekend is hard on your body physically and on your personal life. It is good to have a break and spend some time with family.”
The Mos will return with a two-game weekend on December 17/18, away to Milton Keynes and then at home so Solent Devils before the Christmas break.
Lennon said: “For us they are three games where we have to be competitive in and have to try and get three wins. We don’t need to worry about the cup until the new year.”
It was all about the league over the last weekend facing the top two teams in NIHL South Division 1, with a 4-2 defeat at Solent’s tiny rink before heading home to face Streatham on Sunday, competing well but beaten 2-0.
“We were under no illusions going into the weekend that it was going to be a tough one,” Lennon said.
“We were playing the first and second placed teams in the league and they have a lot of quality and have been together a long time, we are a relatively new team in that regards, we have to put it into context.
“Saturday was a very difficult game, as I said last week, going to a rink that is completely different from your own, and we know that when they play in that rink they have a very strong system they play to, very well organised and disciplined in how they approach things.
“It is hard for us to adapt very quickly to that, you learn how you go through the game how you can be effective as a team, we played very well for two and a half periods where we were a goal between us, at 3-2 up until about five minutes left to play, we were wasteful with a few chances.”
The Mos were unable to level and Solent got a killer fourth.
Lennon said: “When you play in such a small rink you can make it easy to ride a game out, especially if you have a two-goal lead, throwing bodies in the middle of the rink and making it difficult for shots to be taken. They are masters at that because they know their rink better than anyone.
“The guys played their hearts out, Owen Rider played really well in goal, he had his best game this season on Saturday. There are fine margins in the games we play in and we didn’t quite get the luck on the night.”
On Sunday they held out Streatham for 33 minutes before conceding.
“We were very tight defensively,” said the coach. “That was one of the key things I said to the boys, during the first period we killed three or four power plays which probably in the end caught up with us because we suffered a bit in the final period with fatigue.
"When you are killing power plays, you put a lot of effort into stopping them scoring and that is tough later in the game when it catches up with you.
“It is the closest we have run them, we are closing the gap, little by little every time we play them and I can’t fault that.”
The standout player for the Mos was goalie Tyler De La Bertouche. The Peterborough Phantoms player and GB youth international, who has just turned 17, is on a prospect contract from the level above and he excelled against a top team.
“He was absolutely outstanding, a phenomenal performance,” Lennon said. “He kept us in the game at times and that is what you need your goalie to do. He showed real quality on Sunday.
“For us, it was a disappointment to lose, but in the context of where we are and where they are as teams, it is good that we put in a good showing and now it is more important on focusing on what it to come next week which is a big game at home.
“The results at the weekend didn’t help us in the league but definitely results in other games helped us out in the cup. We have put in some good performances this season and when you lose two at the weekend it is easy to be upset from that but we have achieved one of our aspirations for this season [to make a cup semi-final], that is great, now we have to keep building momentum, certainly building up to that game in January. It will be a huge one for us to try and get to the final.”
Supporters are advised to book tickets for Sunday's match in advance due to ongoing capacity restriction at Planet Ice. Doors open at 4.30pm with a 5.15pm faceoff.