Lions Overpowered in Cardiff
The Lee Valley Lions travelled to Wales still in search of their first win of the season, as they took on the Cardiff Fire at Ice Arena Wales. It was the Lions’ first trip to Cardiff since September 2013.
The Lions welcomed back Ben Gillingham and Oliver Glover, and gave a debut to new signing Matthew Hamilton. Missing were Ben Duffy, Brett Shepherd, Lee Hounslow, Matt Brown, Robin Young and Robyn Maby. That gave Lee Valley 14 skaters plus netminder James Andrew. The Fire were able to ice a full roster of 20 skaters and two netminders. Nine of their roster had won the NIHL South 2 (West) league title with the Fire last campaign.
1st Period: Cardiff started the game quickly, playing an aggressive brand of hockey and using their size well. They took an early lead as Ben Smith (2:02, assisted Jordan Baber and Robert Sedlak) put them ahead with just over two minutes played. The Lions were then unable to capitalise on an elbowing penalty against Cardiff captain Alan Armour, but were able to get back into the game just shy of the ten minute mark. Michael Crosse (9:44, assisted Nick Alley) buried a rebound to tie the game at 1-1 after Lions captain Nick Alley drove down the left flank and released a shot that Fire netminder Lewis Davies could only parry into Crosse’s path.
Cardiff regained the lead with just under five minutes left in the period, Rhys Harding (15:36, assisted Sedlak and Armour) putting the puck past James Andrew. The rest of the period saw the Lions successfully kill their first penalty of the game, as Simon Jones sat for hooking, and the two sides went into the first break with the Welsh side leading 2-1. The Lions outshot their hosts 12-9 in the period.
2nd Period: The second period started with a bang as Cardiff’s Elliott Murdoch and Lee Valley’s Chris Fox both sat 2+2+2 for slashing and roughing at 21:48. The Fire then managed to extend their lead to 3-1 as Ryan Banwell (26:37, assisted Baber and Morgan Evans) fired past Andrew in the Lions net. The next ten minutes mostly passed without incident before Michael Hutchings of the Fire sat 2 minutes for boarding. The Lions were unable to use the resultant powerplay and, as Hutchings returned to the ice, he set up Sedlak (39:27, assisted Hutchings) who made it 4-1 to the home side.
With just one second remaining in the second period, Fire forward Elliott Murdoch was tossed from the game on a match penalty, meaning the Lions would have almost five minutes of powerplay time to start the final period. The second period ended 4-1 to the hosts, with the shots equal at 17 apiece.
3rd Period: Starting period 3 on the powerplay, the Lions were unable to find their way past a disciplined Fire penalty kill; and a bench minor for too many men at 42:58 killed the Lions’ momentum. On the resulting 4-on-4 period of play, Fire extended their lead to 5-1 as Hutchings (44:25, assisted Harding and Stephen Deacon) scored past Andrew.
The last ten minutes saw the Fire adding two more goals to win the game 7-1; first Banwell (53:16, assisted Ross Wilkinson) bagged his second of the game and then Baber (58:45, assisted Morgan Evans) completed the scoring just over a minute from time. Sandwiched in between was a cross-checking penalty to Lions captain Nick Alley which was successfully killed off.
As the final buzzer sounded, the hosts could celebrate a 7-1 win over a Lions side that once again gave a good account of themselves but fell short against bigger, more physical opponents with a larger bench. For the Lions, Michael Crosse created several good chances before having to leave the game with a concussion following a hit. Jordan Turner also re-aggravated an injury to complete a tough night for the East London side. One positive for the Lions was in net, as James Andrew once again put in a strong performance, earning the man of the match award – already his third such award this season.
Final Score: Cardiff Fire 7-1 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 2-1/2-0/3-0
Shots: Cardiff 41-40 Lee Valley (9-12/17-17/15-11)
Penalty Minutes: Cardiff 35-12 Lee Valley
Scorers: Cardiff – Robert Sedlak (1+2), Jordan Baber (1+2), Ryan Banwell (2+0), Michael Hutchings (1+1), Rhys Harding (1+1), Morgan Evans (0+2), Ben Smith (1+0), Stephen Deacon (0+1), Alan Armour (0+1), Ross Wilkinson (0+1)
Lee Valley – Michael Crosse (1+0), Nick Alley (0+1)
Goaltenders: Cardiff – Lewis Davies (60:00 played, 40 shots/1 goal against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 41 shots/7 goals against)
Man of the Match – James Andrew (Lee Valley)
Courageous Lions Downed by Peterborough
Less than 24 hours after defeat in Cardiff, the Lee Valley Lions hosted the Peterborough Phantoms on home ice on Sunday. Peterborough – previously known as the Islanders – dominated the league last season, winning the “Treble” of the NIHL South 2 (East) league title, NIHL South 2 Cup and NIHL South 2 Playoffs. So it was sure to be another difficult game for coach George Alley’s side.
The Lions welcomed back Matt Brown and Robin Young who missed the trip to Cardiff, while new signing Matthew Hamilton made his home debut. Missing for Lee Valley were Ben Duffy, Brett Shepherd, Jordan Turner, Lee Hounslow, Michael Crosse and Samuel Awoyemi – with both Turner and Crosse having been injured the previous night. That gave Lee Valley 13 skaters plus netminding duo James Andrew and Robyn Maby. The Phantoms brought a full roster of 20 skaters plus netminder Dan Lane – an almost identical lineup to the all-conquering Islanders side of the previous season.
1st Period: The Phantoms came out quickly and aggressively, as was to be expected from a team riding high in the league, and tested Lions netminder James Andrew several times early on. But they struggled to find a way through Lee Valley’s defenses despite a lot of pressure. The Lions were able to counter a few times but could not create any concrete chances of their own. The game turned on one penalty against Peterborough; with Jack Sansby in the box for slashing, Peterborough achieved the rare feat of scoring three shorthanded goals on the same Lions powerplay, to put themselves 3-0 up. Nathan Pollard (7:59, assisted Craig Wallis), a second for N. Pollard (8:13, assisted Conor Pollard) and a further goal for James Pentecost (8:53, assisted Shaun Yardley) did the damage.
It was at this point that Lions coach George Alley called a timeout, and this seemed to calm his side down. They were able to prevent the Phantoms from scoring any more goals in the period, and with just over two minutes left until the first break, they got themselves back in the game as Ross Sin-Hidge (17:43, assisted Matt Brown) fired past Lane in the Peterborough net. The first period ended with the home side 3-1 down, but still in the game.
2nd Period: It took only six seconds of period 2 for the Lions to score their second goal of the night, Nick Alley (20:06, assisted Sin-Hidge) taking a pass from Ross Sin-Hidge off the opening faceoff, skating across the blue line and catching Lane cold to put the Lions within one. And at 24:04 the home side tied the game up at 3-3, Simon Geldart (24:04, unassisted) stealing the puck and firing past Lane on the breakaway. It took just 44 seconds, however, for Peterborough to retake the lead as Pentecost (24:48, assisted N. Pollard) managed to get one past Andrew. The Phantoms further extended their lead to 6-3 through goals by Kenny Bavin (30:10, assisted Dale Jowett and Yardley) and Pentecost (36:41, assisted Yardley and Robert McDonald). That goal brought up Pentecost’s hat trick.
In between the scoring, there were several feisty moments as the game got physical. Matthew Hepburn (Lee Valley) and Leon Groom (Peterborough) sat two each for charging while Lions forward Simon Geldart and Peterborough defenceman Callum Medcalf each sat 2+2 for roughing. And as in period 1, the Lions also got the last laugh in period 2, as they brought the scoreline back to 6-4 with captain Nick Alley (39:35, assisted Geldart) bagging his second of the night with just 25 seconds until the second period break, right off a face-off from Simon Geldart.
3rd Period: Peterborough came out more aggressively to start period 3, looking to atone for some sloppy play in the first two periods. And just over three minutes in, they went 7-4 ahead, Bavin (43:05, assisted Connor Hunter and Yardley) netting his second of the night. Still the Lions would not give up however, as Nick Alley (45:57, assisted Sin-Hidge) completed his hat-trick and got the hosts back within two goals, at 7-5 behind. The Lions soon ran into penalty trouble, though, and the Phantoms suitably punished them; first Conor Pollard (47:39, assisted Bradley Moore and Jonathan Brammall) made it 8-5 with Robin Young in the box for interference, and the Phantoms then extended their lead to 9-5 as Connor Stokes (50:12, assisted Bavin and Moore) netted with Daniel Tamasauskas sitting two for tripping.
The closing stages of the game saw a tired Lions side shipping three more goals as Peterborough turned on the style. First C. Pollard (55:07, assisted Pentecost and N. Pollard) put the Phantoms into double figures, before Brammall (58:05, assisted Yardley and Jake Samal) and Stokes (58:47, assisted Sam Barlow and Moore) notched up goals 11 and 12 within the last two minutes. Connor Hunter was assessed a match penalty for high sticking on Lions forward Ben Gillingham, although it was later downgraded to a 5 plus game.
The final score was 12-5 to the Phantoms – a scoreline that undoubtedly flattered them. What on paper looks like a convincing win was not always a foregone conclusion, as the home side battled hard and kept creating chances before finally running out of energy late in the game. Lee Valley are in fact the only side to put more than three goals past Peterborough this season, managing five in this game, and the Lions were within two goals as late as the 43rd minute. Chris Fox was awarded Man of the Match for the Lions after a combative performance, while veteran defenceman Jonathan Brammall took home the beers for the Phantoms.
*Please note, some stats vary from those on the official game sheet
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 5-12 Peterborough Phantoms
Period Scores: 1-3/3-3/1-6
Shots: Lee Valley 22-73 Peterborough (7-27/8-25/7-21)
Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 18-43 Peterborough
Scorers: Lee Valley – Nick Alley (3+0), Ross Sin-Hidge (1+2), Simon Geldart (1+1), Matt Brown (0+1)
Peterborough – Shaun Yardley (0+5), James Pentecost (3+1), Nathan Pollard (2+2), Kenny Bavin (2+1), Conor Pollard (2+1), Bradley Moore (0+3), Connor Stokes (0+2), Jonathan Brammall (1+1), Dale Jowett (0+1), Craig Wallis (0+1), Sam Barlow (0+1), Robert McDonald (0+1), Connor Hunter (0+1), Jake Samal (0+1)
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 73 shots/12 goals against)
Peterborough – Dan Lane (60:00 played, 22 shots/5 goals against)
Man of the Match – Chris Fox (Lee Valley), Jonathan Brammall (Peterborough)
The Lions next game is our first rematch of the season, when we welcome Solent Devils to Lee Valley Ice Centre on Saturday 4th November.
Face off at Lea Bridge Road is at 5:30pm.
You can keep up to date with the Lions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #LeeValleyLions.