Lions Take First Point After Spirited Fightback
Following on from defeat at home to Haringey two weekends before, the Lee Valley Lions returned to action on Saturday as they travelled to Kent to face the Invicta Mustangs. The Lions were hoping to finally break their duck and take their first win of the season.
The Lions were without Ben Duffy, James Joseph, Jordan Turner, Lee Hounslow, Michael Crosse, Robin Young and Robyn Maby, but welcomed two debutants: defencemen Ashley Earll, formerly of the Invicta Mustangs, and Arran Hartley joined the team to give Lee Valley 14 skaters as well as netminding duo James Andrew and Brett Shepherd.
1st Period: The first period was an entertaining one with chances at both ends. James Andrew in the Lions net was the busier of the two netminders, facing 24 shots in the period, while the Lions managed to get nine shots on the Mustangs net. Neither side was able to break the deadlock however, with the period ending goalless despite all the Mustangs pressure. The Lions had Andrew to thank for that, as he made several impressive saves to keep the score down.
2nd Period: The second period was also a tight affair, with both sides unable to create too many clear-cut chances. This was perhaps not surprising considering that both teams have struggled for goals in a lot of games this season. Once again Andrew in the Lions net made some noteworthy saves, but he was unable to stop 18-year-old Jake Stedman making it 1-0 to the home side. That proved to be the only goal in the second period, as the Mustangs went into period three with a slender 1-0 advantage.
3rd Period: The third period has sometimes been a weak point for the Lions this season, but they started the period well this time as they equalised early on through Chris Fox to level the scores at one apiece. However the Mustangs did not let them rest on their laurels as they scored twice in quick succession, with first James Laming making it 2-1 with 13 minutes left in the game and then Stedman scoring his second of the game to put the home side 3-1 ahead.
Instead of letting their heads go down, the Lions launched a spirit comeback and with seven minutes left to play, got the score back to 3-2 as Matthew Hepburn netted on the powerplay. As the period wore on, the Lions threw everything they had at the Mustangs net to try and get an equaliser. And, with just seven seconds to go in the third period, the Lions scored to tie the game. Nick Alley scored a 6-on-4 goal – the Lions were on the powerplay with netminder Andrew pulled for an extra skater -levelling the game up at 3-3. This secured a first point of the season for the Lions as the game headed to overtime.
Overtime: This was the first 3-on-3 overtime of the season for the Lions, while the Mustangs had lost to Slough in their only previous experience of the format. On this occasion, it would be the Mustangs who would score and take the extra point for the victory, Stedman (assisted Laming) completing his hat-trick.
Despite the loss, the Lions could celebrate a fantastic comeback from 3-1 down to 3-3, which allowed them to score their first point of the season and also showed that the spirit within the team is high despite a very difficult season to date. James Andrew was deservedly named the Lions’ Man of the Match after another strong performance in net, while hat-trick hero Jake Stedman took home the award for the Mustangs.
*No game sheet available at time of writing.
Final Score: Invicta Mustangs 4-3 Lee Valley Lions (OT)
Period Scores: 0-0/1-0/2-3/1-0
Penalty Minutes: n/a
Scorers: Invicta – Jake Stedman (three goals), James Laming (one goal)
Lee Valley – Chris Fox, Matthew Hepburn, Nick Alley (one goal each)
Goaltenders: Invicta – n/a
Lee Valley – n/a
Man of the Match – James Andrew (Lee Valley), Jake Stedman (Invicta)
Lions Outmanoeuvred by Well-Drilled Pitbulls
After taking their first point of the season in an overtime loss to the Invicta Mustangs the night before, the Lee Valley Lions returned home on Sunday to face the Bristol Pitbulls. With the Pitbulls coming into the game in 11th place, the Lions hoped to be in with a chance of points in this encounter.
Lee Valley were missing Ben Duffy, Jordan Turner, Lee Hounslow, Michael Crosse, Robin Young, Robyn Maby and Samuel Awoyemi, but welcomed back James Joseph as they iced 14 skaters as well as netminders Brett Shepherd, who started this game, and James Andrew who was voted Man of the Match the previous night against Invicta. Bristol brought 18 skaters and netminders Andrew Leckie and Ross Miller.
1st Period: The first period started horribly for the Lions, as Bristol player-coach Richard Hargreaves (1:04, assisted Ryan McFarlane) caught both the Lee Valley defence and Lions netminder Shepherd cold and put his side 1-0 up early. The next ten minutes saw the Lions competing well, preventing Bristol from creating too many chances. And when they did, Shepherd was there to make the save.
However in the 11th minute, the visitors doubled their lead as Olly Shone (11:41, assisted Adrian Smith and R. Hargreaves) was left unchecked at the back post on the powerplay – Matthew Hamilton was in the box for tripping – and slotted the puck past Shepherd for 2-0. And with just over two minutes left until the first break, Logan Prince (17:41, unassisted) backhanded the puck past Shepherd to put the Pitbulls 3-0 up, a lead they would hold until the break. The Pitbulls put 16 shots on Shepherd in the period while Andrew Leckie in the Bristol net stopped all eight attempts that he faced.
2nd Period: It took just 21 seconds of period 2 for the Pitbulls to go 4-0 up as the Lions once again started slowly; this time it was Josh Dolphin (20:21, assisted Grant Richardson and Jamie Newton) getting the final touch. Bristol then got into penalty trouble; although they killed a charging penalty against Sam Shone, they were unable to do the same when Adrian Smith sat for interference as Simon Geldart (29:54, assisted Matthew Hamilton and Matthew Hepburn) got the game back to 4-1, scoring Lee Valley’s first goal of the evening.
However this was the kick that Bristol needed to get their heads back in the game, and just past the halfway stage of the game they scored two goals in quick succession to go 6-1 up as first Olly Shone (31:23, assisted Giovanni Raffaelli) and then Janne Virtanen (31:38, assisted O. Shone and R. Hargreaves) hit a quickfire double. This saw the end of Shepherd’s night between the posts, as he was relieved by James Andrew. Things did not get any better for the Lions though as Bristol scored twice within the last 1:02 of the period, Olly Shone (38:58, assisted R. Hargreaves and Virtanen) getting his hat-trick and Giacomo Raffaelli (39:58, assisted Smith and Prince) making the score 8-1 after two periods.
3rd Period: The third period started badly for the Lions, just as the other two periods had; as James Joseph sat two minutes for kneeing, Macauley Coppock (42:13, assisted R. Hargreaves and O. Shone) scored a powerplay marker to extend Bristol’s lead to 9-1. The next 15 minutes saw the Lions try desperately to get some consolation goals, but the well-drilled Pitbulls backline prevented them from doing so, as did Leckie in the Bristol net.
The Pitbulls then put further gloss on the scoreline in the late stages of the game, with Prince (57:11, assisted McFarlane and Richardson) scoring his second and Olly Shone (59:39, assisted Coppock and R. Hargreaves) his fourth of the game. As the final buzzer sounded, the Pitbulls skated off with a deserved win and, although the scoreline may have flattered them slightly, they were good value for the win after a well-drilled and disciplined performance. Olly Shone was awarded Man of the Match for the Pitbulls after scoring four goals, while Lions forward Ben Gillingham took home the award for his side after a hard-working performance.
For the Lions, this game was another reminder of the tough league they find themselves in this season. Luckily for the East London side, the next chance of points comes in just six days as Cardiff visit the Den on Saturday. After their 7-1 loss in the Welsh capital earlier in the season, the Lions will be out for revenge.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 1-11 Bristol Pitbulls
Period Scores: 0-3/1-5/0-3
Shots: Lee Valley 33-59 Bristol (8-16/14-23/11-20)
Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 10-8 Bristol
Scorers: Lee Valley – Simon Geldart (1+0), Matthew Hamilton (0+1), Matthew Hepburn (0+1)
Bristol – Olly Shone (4+2), Richard Hargreaves (1+5), Logan Prince (2+1), Macauley Coppock (1+1), Janne Virtanen (1+1), Grant Richardson (0+2), Ryan McFarlane (0+2), Adrian Smith (0+2), Giacomo Raffaelli (1+0), Josh Dolphin (1+0), Jamie Newton (0+1), Giovanni Raffaelli (0+1)
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – Brett Shepherd (31:38 played, 30 shots/6 goals against), James Andrew (28:22 played, 29 shots/5 goals against)
Bristol – Andrew Leckie (60:00 played, 33 shots/1 goal against)
Man of the Match – Ben Gillingham (Lee Valley), Olly Shone (Bristol)
The Lions are back in action on Saturday 2nd December as they welcome the Cardiff NIHL2 Fire to Lee Valley. Faceoff is at 5:30pm.