The Lee Valley Lions kicked off their NIHL South 2 campaign with a trip across London to face local rivals Haringey at Alexandra Palace. The Racers team who played the last four seasons has been replaced by the new Huskies organisation this season but, with many familiar faces in the Haringey side, the Lions were looking to claim victory in the first London derby of the season, having won 6-4 in their last trip to the Palace back in March.
The Lions arrived with twelve skaters as well as netminder James Andrew. Missing were Lee Hounslow, Jordan Turner, Robin Young, Robyn Maby, Brett Shepherd and captain Nick Alley. Former Haringey forward Matt Brown made his debut for the Lions while Michael Crosse played his first competitive game for the club since 2013.
Haringey’s side included nine former Lee Valley players, including Joe Berry who played ten seasons for the Lions between 2005 and 2016.
1st Period: Despite being short benched, the Lions showed no signs of backing down, with a crunching hit from Daniel Tamasauskas on Huskies captain Ben Osborne setting the tone early on. The away side took the lead just after the five minute mark, Ben Duffy (5:33, assisted Matt Brown) scoring Lee Valley’s first goal of the season on the breakaway. It took just seven seconds for Haringey to equalise, as Stephen Woodford (5:40, assisted Stuart Appleby) tied the score at one. The Lions took the lead again five minutes later, Chris Fox (10:23, unassisted) scoring directly after a faceoff. However the Huskies had a quick answer again, and again it was Woodford (10:43, assisted Appleby and Lewis Jones) who put the puck in the net. And after a turnover behind their own net, the Lions found themselves behind as Sam Park (13:01, assisted Daniel Clayton) fired the puck past James Andrew.
The Lions refused to give up though, Oliver Glover (15:16, assisted Ben Gillingham) leveling the scores at three apiece as he unleashed a cannon from the blue line which Jussi Lynch Grut in the Haringey net was unable to stop. It got better for the Lions 31 seconds later, Duffy (15:47, assisted Fox) scoring his second of the night and putting the Lions 4-3 up. There was one more sting in the tail in the first period however, as Clayton (17:40, assisted Bryn Griffiths and Park) scored short-handed with Lee Mercer in the box to tie the game at 4-4 going into the first intermission after a crazy first period.
2nd Period: The second period started off as the first had ended, with action at both ends. With former Lions forward Joe Berry in the box, Michael Crosse (23:30, assisted Gillingham and Simon Geldart) scored on the powerplay to give the Lions a 5-4 lead. Just 35 seconds later, Berry was involved in an altercation with Ross Sin-Hidge that saw the Huskies forward tossed from the game with a match penalty for headbutting, and Sin-Hidge sitting two minutes for roughing. On the resulting 4-on-4 passage of play, Perry Whitlock (24:35, assisted Woodford and Osborne) made the score 5-5 with a laser beam from the blue line. And while both sides were still down to four men, Geldart (25:44, assisted Brown) made it 6-5 to Lee Valley after Grut made a good stop to deny Brown but could not prevent Geldart tucking in the rebound.
The scoring for the period did not stop there. The Lions could not score on the three minute powerplay opportunity after Sin-Hidge left the box and, just two seconds after Haringey’s penalty had expired, Woodford (29:07, unassisted) completed his hat trick leveling the scores at 6-6. There was yet another goal to come in the period as Woodford (37:05, assisted Jones and Appleby) scored his fourth of the evening to see the Huskies head into the second intermission with a 7-6 advantage.
3rd Period: After eight goals in the 1st period and a five goal 2nd period, the last period of the game would see just two goals being scored. The Lions tied the score at 7-7 midway through the period, Duffy (49:12, unassisted) completing his hat trick on the powerplay with Woodford in the box. However Haringey were to have the last laugh, Park (52:07, assisted Clayton) completing the scoring with just under eight minutes to go. The Lions threw everything they had at the Huskies in the closing stages, including pulling netminder Andrew for an extra attacker, but could not find that eighth goal that they needed.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Huskies skated off with an 8-7 victory after a thrilling game. The Lions could take several positives from the game, however, with the short-benched side showing great character to score seven goals and push Haringey right to the very end. Man of the match for the Lions was the impressive Ross Sin-Hidge, who took many shifts both up front and on the blue line and created many chances. Four goal man Woodford took the award for the Huskies.
Final Score: Haringey Huskies 8-7 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 4-4/3-2/1-1
Shots: Haringey 37-41 Lee Valley (14-16/9-12/14-13)
Penalty Minutes: Haringey 43-8 Lee Valley
Scorers: Haringey – Stephen Woodford (4+1), Sam Park (2+1), Daniel Clayton (1+2), Stuart Appleby (0+3), Lewis Jones (0+2), Perry Whitlock (1+0), Bryn Griffiths (0+1), Ben Osborne (0+1)
Lee Valley – Ben Duffy (3+0), Simon Geldart (1+1), Chris Fox (1+1), Ben Gillingham (0+2), Matt Brown (0+2), Oliver Glover (1+0), Michael Crosse (1+0)
Goaltenders: Haringey – Jussi Lynch Grut (60:00 played, 41 shots/7 goals against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (58:50 played, 37 shots/8 goals against)
Man of the Match – Ross Sin-Hidge (Lee Valley), Stephen Woodford (Haringey)
The Lions look to bounce back first home game of the season is against the Bracknell Hornets on Sunday 17th September.
Face off is at 5:30pm at Lee Valley Ice Centre.