Lions Edged out by Buffalo in 11 Goal Thriller

The Lee Valley Lions suffered defeat by the odd goal in 11 on Saturday night, as they went down 5-6 at home to the Basingstoke Buffalo.

Goals from Joe Berry, Tom Hnilica, Alex Clarke, Michael Jacobs and Joe Miller – the 17-year-old scoring his first goal for the club – weren’t enough, as the Lions couldn’t quite recover from a slow start in which they went 1-5 down at the midway point of the game.

Both sides iced 18 skaters for the game; with the Lions starting with James Andrew in net, and the Buffalo handing a start to 18-year-old Ethan Frain between the pipes.

First Period: The game started well for the Lions as they went 1-0 up, Joe Berry (7:03, assisted Tom Hnilica) scoring his seventh goal of the season after a lovely pass across the face of goal from Czech forward Hnilica.

The Buffalo hit back in the 12th minute with a goal from Oscar Evans (11:26, unassisted) to tie the scores, before the Lions hit penalty trouble. The Buffalo went 2-1 up with a powerplay goal through Jack Peacock (14:20, assisted Samuel Compton), before another powerplay allowed the Buffalo to extend their lead to 3-1 as Cameron Buckle (19:38, assisted Warren Jones and Samuel Brooks) put the puck home.

There was to be no more scoring on the period, with the Buffalo narrowly outshooting the Lions 13-11.

Second Period: The middle frame was dominated by the Buffalo in the early stages, as they peppered Lions goaltender James Andrew with shot after shot. He made some great saves to keep the score low, but was eventually beaten in the 26th minute as Samuel Brooks (25:40, assisted Buckle and Jones) made it 4-1 for the Buffalo with a bizarre goal that deceived Andrew.

And the Buffalo didn’t let up there, as they continued to attack and were rewarded with another goal in the 28th minute as Buckle (27:55, assisted Brooks and Jones) grabbed a shorthanded goal on the counter-attack – Andrew made a great save on the initial shot, but could do nothing about the rebound which Buckle tucked home for his second goal of the game.

This fifth goal seemed to jolt the Lions into life, as they started creating more chances towards the end of the second period, and were rewarded with just four seconds to go until the intermission as Hnilica (39:56, assisted Berry) scored his 16th goal of the season, assisted by Berry, as the two forwards once again showed great chemistry. This goal reduced the deficit to 2-5 at the second intermission, the Buffalo having outshot the Lions 22-13 during the period.

Third Period: The Lions then started the third period well, getting the score back to 4-5 in the first ten minutes of the period as Alex Clarke (41:05, assisted Berry and James Joseph) and Michael Jacobs (49:47, assisted Conner Smith and Joseph) both scored powerplay goals to set up a tense final ten minutes.

The Buffalo then extended their lead to 6-4 with a goal from Brooks (51:50, assisted Jones), but the Lions came storming back to cut that lead to 6-5 just a few minutes later as 17-year-old forward Joe Miller (55:51, assisted Dexter Crawford) scored his first goal in a Lions jersey with just over five minutes left in the game.

The Lions then spent the last few minutes of the game throwing shot after shot on the Buffalo net as they looked for an equaliser, even pulling goaltender James Andrew towards the end and replacing him with an extra attacker. But young Buffalo goalie Ethan Frain stood tall in the visitors’ net, and the Buffalo held on to a tense 6-5 victory on the road.

Both goaltenders – Andrew for the Lions and Frain for the Buffalo – were deservedly awarded Man of the Match for their respective teams after strong performances in net.

The Lions now hit the road over the next three weekends, with their next home game not coming until the 9th of March.

They are next in action this Saturday 16th February, as they travel to Kent to take on the Invicta Mustangs. Faceoff at Planet Ice Gillingham will be at 17:30.

GAME STATS*
*Please note, some stats vary from those on the official game sheet

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 5-6 Basingstoke Buffalo

Period Scores: 1-3/1-2/3-1

Shots: Lee Valley 50-47 Basingstoke (11-13/13-22/26-12)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 14-14 Basingstoke

Scorers: Lee Valley – Joe Berry 1+2, Tom Hnilica 1+1, James Joseph 0+2, Joe Miller 1+0, Alex Clarke 1+0, Michael Jacobs 1+0, Conner Smith 0+1, Dexter Crawford 0+1
Basingstoke – Samuel Brooks 2+2, Warren Jones 0+4, Cameron Buckle 2+1, Jack Peacock 1+0, Oscar Evans 1+0, Samuel Compton 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (59:03 played, 47 shots/6 goals against)
Basingstoke – Ethan Frain (60:00 played, 50 shots/5 goals against)

Man of the Match – James Andrew (Lee Valley), Ethan Frain (Basingstoke)

Tom Hnilica shoots at goal during the Lions’ narrow defeat to Basingstoke (Photo: Jason Newman)

Lions Suffer Disappointing Defeat as Wildcats Get Revenge

Swindon look on as Connor Smith shoots on target (photo © John H Lee)

The Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats got revenge for their defeat to the Lee Valley Lions the previous weekend, as they won 12-3 in East London in Saturday’s return game.

The Wildcats welcomed back several players who had missed the previous weekend’s game, while the Lions were missing a few players including Joshua Irish, Ben Gillingham and Joe Berry – who had combined for two goals and four assists in the Lions’ first win of the season.

First Period: The opening stages of the game were disastrous for the Lions, as they fell 0-3 behind within seven minutes with Jason Warren, Eliot Randall and Jack Goodchild all netting for the Wildcats. The scoreline then became 4-0 in the 17th minute as Joseph Llewellyn also scored for Swindon.

This prompted a change of goaltenders for the Lions, with Steve Grout – who had kept a shutout in the previous weekend’s win against the Wildcats – coming into net in place of James Andrew, who had started this game. However, Grout was powerless to stop the Wildcats scoring twice more to take a shocking 6-0 lead into the first break – further goals coming from Eliot Randall and Mason Lipsey. This despite the Lions outshooting the Wildcats 15-12 in the opening frame

Second Period: The middle period was a lot closer, with just the one goal being scored – but unfortunately for the Lions, it was Swindon’s seventh of the evening as Reed Sayers got on the scoresheet for the away side to make it 7-0.

Both sides created numerous chances in the period, with Swindon having 18 shots and the Lions putting 16 pucks on Tyler Perre in the Wildcats net – but Sayers’ marker was to be the only goal of the second period.

Third Period: The final period started horribly for the Lions as they conceded twice within the first 26 seconds to go 9-0 down, goals coming through Jason Warren and Jake Williams.

This seemed to finally wake the Lions up, and they had a mini-revival between the 43rd and 47th minutes – scoring three goals to reduce the deficit to 9-3. Firstly, good build-up play from Gus Zimmerman led to a shorthanded goal by Tom Hnilica (42:42, assisted Zimmerman); then Alex Clarke (45:25, assisted Yasin Sridhar and Dexter Crawford) scored his second goal in as many games after good work in front of the net by Sridhar; and finally Michael Jacobs (46:14, assisted Zimmerman and Hnilica) scored with a shot that took a deflection off a Wildcats player, although the goal was credited to Zimmerman on the gamesheet.

However, Swindon made it 10-3 soon after through Harry Llewellyn, and Reed Sayers then increased Swindon’s lead to 11-3 just over half a minute later. This prompted a second goaltending change of the evening for the Lions, with Andrew returning to the net in relief of Grout.

There was just one more goal in the remaining 12 minutes of the game, and it was Swindon who had the last laugh as they made it 12-3 in the 58th minute, Eliot Randall sealing his hat-trick.

It was a night to forget for the Lions, as they were soundly beaten by the Wildcats who now sit three points ahead of them in the league table.

The Lions must now regroup to host the Basingstoke Buffalo this upcoming Saturday 9th February – faceoff at Lee Valley Ice Centre will be at 17:30.

GAME STATS*
*Please note, some stats vary from those on the official game sheet

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 3-12 Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats

Period Scores: 0-6/0-1/3-5

Shots: Lee Valley 59-42 Swindon (15-12/16-18/28-12)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 34-6 Swindon

Scorers: Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 1+1, Gus Zimmerman 0+2, Alex Clarke 1+0, Michael Jacobs 1+0, Dexter Crawford 0+1, Yasin Sridhar 0+1
Swindon – Eliot Randall 3+0, Reed Sayers 2+1, Jack Goodchild 1+2, Jason Warren 2+0, Mason Lipsey 1+1, Jake Williams 1+1, Joseph Llewellyn 1+1, Harry Llewellyn 1+1, Ethan Mayoh 0+1, William Harding 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (27:43 played, 16 shots/5 goals against); Steve Grout (32:17 played, 26 shots/7 goals against)
Swindon – Tyler Perre (60:00 played, 59 shots/3 goals against)

Man of the Match – Tom Hnilica (Lee Valley), Eliot Randall (Swindon)

Lions Break Duck with Swindon Win

The Lee Valley Lions took their first win of the season on Sunday, as they won away from home against a Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats side directly above them in the league table. It was also the East London side’s first win in 21 months.

Swindon had taken a surprise victory over Bristol the previous day, so the Lions knew they would have to be at their best in order to take their first victory of what has been a tough season.

The Lions were able to ice a strong side for the game, with 18 skaters making the trip to Swindon – allowing the Lions to ice four forward lines and three lines of defence – and Steve Grout starting in net.

First Period: The Lions got off to a perfect start, scoring a powerplay goal in the sixth minute to go 1-0 up; Joe Berry (goal timed 5:57) putting the puck in the net with a neat finish after a great assist from Ben Gillingham.

After a few more powerplay chances that they couldn’t convert, the Lions then went 2-0 up in the 11th minute as Czech forward Tom Hnilica (10:11) scored his 13th goal of the season, with assists coming from Berry and Michael Jacobs.

There were to be no more goals in the first period, with the Lions taking a 2-0 lead into the break, having outshot the hosts 14-6.

Second Period: There was just the one goal scored in the middle frame – and again it was the Lions who got it despite being outshot 16-11 in the period. Hnilica (33:29) scored his second goal of the night and 14th of the season, with assists coming from Berry and captain Simon Jones. This put the Lions 3-0 up, a lead they would take into the second break, thanks in no small part to some top saves by Grout in net.

Third Period: The visitors then started the final period perfectly, going 4-0 up in the 43rd minute as Alex Clarke (42:04) scored his first goal in a Lions jersey, with assists coming from Gillingham and Richard Hodge.

And just 26 seconds later, the Lions completed the scoring for the night as Joshua Irish (42:30) netted to put the visitors 5-0 up, with the assist coming from Oliver Glover.

Things got tense in the latter stages of the game, with Lions’ Gus Zimmerman sitting a 2+10 penalty for roughing and goalscorer Alex Clarke being tossed from the game for high sticking; but the Lions defence held firm, as did Grout in the Lee Valley net, to hold on to the 5-0 win when the final buzzer sounded.

Man of the Match for the Lions was Grout, who made 37 saves and didn’t concede a single goal as he backstopped his team to victory.

The win puts the Lions just one point behind Swindon in the league table – with the Wildcats visiting Lee Valley Ice Centre this coming Saturday 2nd February (faceoff 17:30) for a return game.

If the Lions win, they will move off the foot of the table at the expense of Swindon – so it is sure to be an intense game.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Swindon NIHL2 Wildcats 0-5 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 0-2/0-1/0-2

Shots: Swindon 37-35 Lee Valley (6-14/16-11/15-10)

Penalty Minutes: Swindon 12-47 Lee Valley Lions

Scorers: Lee Valley – Joe Berry 1+2, Tom Hnilica 2+0, Ben Gillingham 0+2, Alex Clarke 1+0, Joshua Irish 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1, Richard Hodge 0+1, Michael Jacobs 0+1, Oliver Glover 0+1

Goaltenders: Swindon – Tyler Perre (42:30 played, 28 shots/5 goal against); Kyle Landells (17:30 played, 7 shots/0 goals against)
Lee Valley – Steve Grout (60:00 played, 37 shots/0 goals against)

Man of the Match – Steve Grout (Lee Valley)

Netminder Steve Grout kept a 37 shot shutout as the Lions won their first game of the season (Photo: Phil Hutchinson)

Guildford and Basingstoke Match Reports

The Lee Valley Lions’ wait for a victory in the National Ice Hockey League South Division 2 this season goes on, after defeats to the Guildford Phoenix and Basingstoke Buffalo this past weekend.

The Lions welcomed Guildford to Lee Valley Ice Centre on Saturday, and the home side were able to ice a strong side with only a few absentees. And the Lions were energetic in the early stages, creating several chances and testing Guildford goaltender Jacob Stoodley. It was the visitors who got onto the scoreboard first, however, as Jacob Rondeau-Smith scored in the 16th minute.

The Lions were left unperturbed by this, striking twice within the next three minutes to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission; firstly Czech forward Tomas Hnilica scored with an assist from Joe Berry, before Hnilica turned provider for a goal by Gus Zimmerman.

The second period was a tight affair early on, with no scoring coming until the 12th minute of the period when Guildford tied things up at 2-2 through Taylor Wootton, and then went 3-2 ahead just a few minutes later as Wootton scored again. The middle period would end with the Lions trailing 3-2 and looking to bounce back in the final frame.

The Lions made a poor start to the third period however, as Wootton scored again at the 44 minute mark to seal a hat-trick and extend the Guildford lead to 4-2. The Lions were able to bounce back in the 48th minute though, Hnilica scoring his second goal of the game with assists from Berry and Dexter Crawford to cut Guildford’s advantage to 4-3.

Unfortunately for the Lions, the game was taken away from them in the final 12 minutes as Guildford scored four more times to take an 8-3 win; goals coming through Taylor Wootton (two more goals bringing him up to five on the evening), Luke Becker and Bailey Wootton.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 3-8 Guildford Phoenix

Period Scores: 2-1/0-2/1-5

Shots: Lee Valley Lions 30-50 Guildford (16-14/7-14/7-22)

Scorers: Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+1, Joe Berry 0+2, Gus Zimmerman 1+0, Dexter Crawford 0+1
Guildford – Taylor Wootton 5+0, Andrew Hemmings 0+5, Bailey Wootton 1+3, Jacob Rondeau-Smith 1+0, Luke Becker 1+0, Jared Lane 0+1, Sean Richardson 0+1, Joe Stephenson 0+1, Matthew Tull 0+1, Owen Smith 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 50 shots/8 goals against)
Guildford – Jacob Stoodley (60:00 played, 30 shots/3 goals against)

Man of the Match – Gus Zimmerman (Lee Valley), Taylor Wootton (Guildford)

The Lions then travelled to Basingstoke on Sunday to take on the Basingstoke Buffalo, missing several key players including top scorer Tomas Hnilica.

The game got off to the worst possible start for the Lions, as they conceded after just one minute, the Buffalo going 1-0 up through Cameron Buckle. And the Buffalo extended that advantage to 2-0 just under five minutes later as Samuel Brooks netted for the Hampshire side.

There were to be no more goals in the first period, meaning the Lions went into the second period trailing 0-2. This then became 3-0 in favour of the Buffalo in the 29th minute as Warren Jones scored for the home side.

The Lions did get a goal back just over a minute later however, as player-coach James Joseph scored his first goal since November 2015 to cut the deficit to 3-1. Assists on the goal came from Ben Gillingham and captain Simon Jones.

Unfortunately for the Lions, they couldn’t capitalise on this goal, conceding two more before the second period was up – Jason Newman netting twice for the Buffalo to give them a 5-1 lead heading into the final period.

The Lions were not able to get back into the game in the third period, with three more Buffalo goals increasing the scoreline to 8-1; Mark Austen, Samuel Brooks and Jason Newman doing the damage. After a fight between Lions defenceman Jake Wadge and Buffalo forward Jack Reddin, the visiting Lions did get one goal back as Gus Zimmerman netted on the powerplay; but this was no more than a consolation goal, as the Buffalo ran out 8-2 winners.

 

GAME STATS

Final Score: Basingstoke Buffalo 8-2 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 2-0/3-1/3-1

Shots: Basingstoke 58-23 Lee Valley Lions (20-7/19-7/19-9)

Penalty Minutes: Basingstoke 54-40 Lee Valley Lions

Scorers: Basingstoke – Jason Newman 3+0, Samuel Brooks 2+1, Cameron Buckle 1+2, Warren Jones 1+2, Mark Austen 1+0, Matthew Byrom 0+1, Josh Richards 0+1, Marcus Russell 0+1, Gregory Martyn 0+1

Lee Valley – James Joseph 1+0, Gus Zimmerman 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1, Ben Gillingham 0+1

Goaltenders: Basingstoke – Aaron Burton (40:14 played, 14 shots/1 goal against); Ethan Frain (19:46 played, 9 shots/1 goal against)

Lee Valley – Steve Grout (44:06 played, 47 shots/7 goals against); James Andrew (15:54 played, 16 shots/1 goal against)

The weekend’s results leave the Lions 15th in the table, but they are still just one point behind 14th place side Swindon – to whom the Lions travel this upcoming Sunday 27th January for a crucial away game. Faceoff in Swindon will be at 18:15.

Lions Downed by Reigning Champions in Oxford

The Lee Valley Lions played their first away game of the calendar year 2019 on Sunday night, as they travelled to Oxford to take on the reigning league champions, the Oxford City Stars.

The Lions handed a debut to forward David Grindrod, and started with James Andrew in net with Steve Grout backing up. The Stars iced a strong line-up of 19 skaters, with Milan Ronai starting in net and John Dibble as backup.

First Period – The home side got off to a superb start, scoring three goals within the first seven minutes to take the game by the scruff of the neck early on. The early goals for the Stars came through Lee Richardson (1:30), Adam Harris (3:36) and Tom Davis (6:31). The Lions did manage to get on the board in the 14th minute and get the score back to 3-1 as Tom Hnilica (13:29, assisted Simon Jones) scored on the powerplay with Oxford’s Josh Oliver sitting 2+10 for tripping and abuse of official.

In the remaining six minutes of the first period, there was to be just one more goal scored as the home side went 4-1 up courtesy of an unassisted goal by Dominic Hopkins (17:08). This came during a passage of 4-on-4 play as Lions’ Jordan Sullivan and Stars’ Joe Edwards were both in the box. The first period ended with the Stars leading 4-1, and outshooting the Lions 18-6.

Second Period – The Lions were caught cold with just 36 seconds played in the middle period, as Darren Elliott (20:36) put the puck home to give the home side a 5-1 advantage. They would quickly extend that advantage to 8-1 by the midway point of the second period as Conor Redmond (21:16), Max Florey (22:48) and Hopkins (28:03) all netted for the Stars. Steve Grout came into the Lions net in relief of James Andrew after the seventh goal.

Shortly after the eighth goal. Lions’ Yasin Sridhar and Dexter Crawford, and Stars’ Harry Harrison and Jake Florey, were all called for fighting, with Sridhar also receiving an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Lions killed off that penalty, but the Stars scored their ninth goal shortly afterwards as Redmond doubled his tally for the evening at 30:49. There was to be just one more goal for the period, as Redmond completed his hat-trick as he netted at 36:32. The Stars ended the second period 10-1 up, having outshot the Lions 19-6.

Third Period – The Lions started the third period killing almost two minutes of 5-on-3, with both Jake Wadge and Dexter Crawford being penalised towards the end of the second period. The visitors killed this off well, and did not concede any goals in the first half of the third period either as the game petered out a little bit.

There were to be three goals in the last six minutes of the game, all coming from the Stars; Alexander Staples (54:49), Redmond (57:11) and Joe Edwards (58:18) completed the scoring for the night, with the champions Oxford beating the Lions by a final scoreline of 13-1.

Lions forward Conner Smith took home the Man of the Match award for the visitors after an energetic performance, while four goal man Conor Redmond took home the award for the home side.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Oxford City Stars 13-1 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 4-1/6-0/3-0

Shots: Oxford City Stars 60-14 Lee Valley Lions (18-6/19-6/23-2)

Penalty Minutes: Oxford City Stars 46-24 Lee Valley Lions

Scorers: Oxford – Conor Redmond 4+1, Lee Richardson 1+4, Dominic Hopkins 2+2, Tom Davis 1+1, Adam Harris 1+1, Max Florey 1+0, Alexander Staples 1+0, Joe Edwards 1+0, Darren Elliott 1+0, Jake Florey 0+1, Matthew Lawday 0+1, Michal Oravec 0+1, Dax Hedges 0+1

Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1

Goaltenders: Oxford – Milan Ronai (60:00 played, 14 shots/1 goal against)

Lee Valley – James Andrew (30:49 played, 22 shots/7 goals against); Steve Grout (29:11 played, 38 shots/6 goals against)

Man of the Match – Conner Smith (Lee Valley), Conor Redmond (Oxford)

The Lee Valley Lions are back in action at home this upcoming Saturday 19th January, as the Guildford Phoenix visit the Den. Faceoff will be at 17:30.

The Lions then travel to Basingstoke the very next day, Sunday 20th January, to take on the Basingstoke Buffalo. Faceoff will be at 18:15.