Lee Valley made their second trip to Oxford, this time to face the currently homeless Bristol Pitbulls for the first time this season. Despite being short-benched and being on a three-game losing streak, the third period comeback against Basingstoke had left the Lions feeling confident that they get their first win since January.
First Period: Both sides created several chances but it was Bristol who broke the deadlock through Grant Richardson (11:39, assists Newton and Hargreaves). The score didn’t deter the Lions as they kept plugging away, Nick Alley having a goal disallowed for a man in the crease. A checking from behind penalty to Adam Peach left the Lions under pressure towards the close of the period, and Bristol duly took their opportunity when Jordan Smith (19:18, unassisted) netted in the final minute of the period.
Second Period: The Pitbulls continued where they left off and Robin Harrison (24:38, assist Smith) put them 3-0 up. Less than a minute later the hosts had doubled their first period lead thanks to a goal from Adrian Smith (25:17, assist Hargreaves). At this point Bristol replaced goalie John Dibble with Ross Webster. Lee Valley kept creating chances but they couldn’t find a breakthrough. Eventually Bristol came back and Matthew Thornhill (36:08, assist Egerton) scored the Pitbulls’ fifth to close the second stanza, leaving Lee Valley on the cusp of another heavy defeat.
Third Period: Lee Valley seemingly only had pride to play for but finally their hard work paid dividends and Nick Alley (41:15, assist Hodge) slotted through Webster’s legs to get their first. From here the belief began to show and as the pressure built, Bristol’s play became lacklustre, perhaps believing they had the game killed off. It was another ten minutes before Alley (51:21, assist Fedotovas) scored the Lions’ second off a Bristol defenceman’s skate; that goal however opened the floodgates and was the start of a 73-second scoring spree for the visitors. After Alley’s goal, Gennadi Yufit (51:30, assist Hatfull) netted, then Matthew Drake (52:21, assists Carson and Gerstein) got the Lions within one. This prompted Bristol to put Dibble back in net but he was off again soon after when he was rounded by Romanas Fedotovas (52:34, assist Hatfull) to tie the game. After Webster had re-replaced Dibble, he was on the end of a peppering from Lee Valley who, against all odds, scored a sixth through Joe Berry (55:56, assist Gerstein). With victory within their grasp the Lions began to hold back and Bristol, through desperation, got an equaliser from player-coach Richard Hargreaves’ (58:30, assist Shone) long-range shot. The game ended there with Lee Valley feeling they could have taken the spoils.
The Lions host the Pitbulls in the return fixture next Sunday (9/3/14) at the Den, which will be our final home game of the season.
Final Score: Bristol 6-6 Lee Valley
Period Scores: 2-0/3-0/1-6
Shots on Goal: 26 on Bristol (16 on Dibble, 10 on Webster) 55 on Mallet (Lee Valley)
Penalties in Minutes: Bristol 10-30 Lee Valley
Scorers: Lee Valley – Nick Alley (2+0), Romanas Fedotovas (1+1), Max Gerstein & James Hatfull (0+2), Joe Berry & Gennadi Yufit (1+0),
Bristol – Richard Hargreaves (1+2), Adrian Smith (1+1), Matthew Thornhill, Robin Harrison, Jordan Smith & Grant Richardson (1+0), Jamie Newton, Sam Shone & Tom Egerton (0+1)
Man of The Match: Romanas Fedotovas
Photos from the game, taken by Flyfifer, are here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.649708651745020.1073741869.111920495523841&type=1