After ending 2017 with an 18-1 defeat in Oxford, the Lee Valley Lions hoped to kick off 2018 with a better result. The fixture list didn’t get any easier, however, as they had to travel to Bracknell to face a Hornets side that had lost just once this season to date. The Hornets had won 11-1 at the Den earlier in the season, so the Lions were keen to improve on that result in this game.
The Lions were without Ashley Earll, Ben Duffy, Jordan Turner, Matthew Hepburn, Michael Crosse, Robyn Maby and Tom Hurley; giving them 13 skaters as well as James Andrew and Brett Shepherd between the pipes. The Hornets fielded 18 skaters plus netminder James Richardson.
1st Period: The first period got off to a disastrous start for the Lions, as the Hornets scored to make it 1-0 just 57 seconds in, as player-coach Danny Hughes (0:57, assisted Josh Ealey-Newman and Matt Jordan) fired past Andrew. The fans in attendance would have been forgiven for thinking this was the start of a Hornets scoring spree, but it took the Hornets a further 14 minutes before they could score again as Andrew made some great saves as per usual to frustrate the home side. When the goal eventually came, it was J. Ealey-Newman (14:27, assisted Adam Bicknell and Hughes) who doubled the advantage.
The Lions did not let their heads drop after this, forcing James Richardson into some sharp saves and eventually getting the puck past him with a minute and a half left in the period. Oliver Glover (18:28, assisted Daniel Tamasauskas and Ross Sin-Hidge) tipped in a point shot by Daniel Tamasauskas for his second goal of the campaign. Tamasauskas picked up his second senior assist on the play. No further goals were to follow in the period, with the Hornets taking a narrow 1-1 lead into the dressing room having outshot the Lions 10-7.
2nd Period: The second period saw the Hornets start on the powerplay with Lions defenceman James Joseph in the box for roughing, but they were unable to take advantage and the scoreline remained at 2-1. As the period wore on, the Hornets put more and more pressure on Andrew in the Lee Valley net – the home side led the shot count 15-4 in the middle frame – but the Lions netminder once again came up big on several occasions to prevent the Hornets from extending their lead. There were no goals from either side in the period, with the score remaining at 2-1 heading into the crucial final period.
3rd Period: All of the Lions’ hard work to keep the scoreline tight was undone at the start of the final period, with two goals inside the first two minutes extending Bracknell’s lead to 4-1: first defenceman Carl Graham (40:25, assisted Bicknell and Jordan) scored from the blueline and then Tom Fisher (41:55, assisted Steve Fisher) also managed to get the puck past Andrew.
At this point, Lions head coach George Alley took his timeout and it seemed to calm the Lions down; for the next eight minutes they were more solid, but they still could not prevent the Hornets from extending their lead with just over ten minutes to play as S. Fisher (49:20, assisted Sean Scarbrough) extended the scoreline to 5-1. A further goal would then follow four minutes later as Scarbrough (53:36, assisted Jack Tarczycki and S. Fisher) made it 6-1.
However the Lions rallied after this, scoring two quickfire goals to make the scoreline a lot closer; first Simon Geldart (53:54, unassisted) roofed the puck unassisted past Richardson before Sin-Hidge (54:37, assisted Andrew) picked up a rebound after a save by Andrew, went coast to coast and buried the puck past the Hornets keeper to make it 6-3 in favour of the home side. The Hornets had time for one more goal, Hughes (58:31, assisted Daniel Fay and Tarczycki) completing the scoring for the game with a 4-on-3 powerplay goal as Simon Jones and Chris Fox (both Lee Valley) and Bracknell’s Harvey Hind-Pitcher all sat in the box.
A final score of 7-3 saw the Hornets remain in the hunt for the NIHL South 2 title, while the Lions are still looking for that elusive first win. However the East London side can once again be proud of their efforts, keeping the scoreline tight against a very strong side and earning a lot of praise from neutral observers in the process. Man of the Match for the Lions went to Ross Sin-Hidge for his 1+1 and an energetic performance, while the award for the Hornets went to Tom Fisher.
Final Score: Bracknell Hornets 7-3 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 2-1/0-0/5-2
Shots: Bracknell Hornets 50-21 Lee Valley Lions (10-7/15-4/25-10)
Penalty Minutes: Bracknell Hornets 6-8 Lee Valley Lions
Scorers: Bracknell – Danny Hughes (2+1), Steve Fisher (1+2), Josh Ealey-Newman (1+1), Sean Scarbrough (1+1), Jack Tarczycki (0+2), Adam Bicknell (0+2), Matt Jordan (0+2), Tom Fisher (1+0), Carl Graham (1+0), Daniel Fay (0+1)
Lee Valley – Ross Sin-Hidge (1+1), Oliver Glover (1+0), Simon Geldart (1+0), Daniel Tamasauskas (0+1), James Andrew (0+1)
Goaltenders: Bracknell – James Richardson (60:00 played, 21 shots/3 goals against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 50 shots/7 goals against)
Man of the Match – Ross Sin-Hidge (Lee Valley), Tom Fisher (Bracknell)
The Lee Valley Lions are next in action away to the Guildford Phoenix on Sunday the 14th of January. Faceoff in Guildford is at 5:30pm.