Lions Grounded by Jets
Seven matches into their NIHL South 2 (Wilkinson) campaign and still looking for that elusive first win, the Lee Valley Lions travelled to Slough to take on the Jets at their temporary rink. Slough finished behind Lee Valley in last season’s NIHL South 2 (East) campaign, so the Lions were confident of a strong result.
The Lions welcomed back Ben Gillingham, but were still missing injured trio Ben Duffy, Michael Crosse and Jordan Turner, as well as Matthew Hepburn, Lee Hounslow and Robyn Maby – making a total of 13 skaters plus netminder Brett Shepherd. The 17-year-old goaltender was making his second consecutive start in net for the East London side. The Jets could call upon 15 skaters and goaltending duo Chris Douglas and Charlie Nelhams.
1st Period: Unlike in some recent games, the Lions did not start slowly in this one. Indeed, both sides had a lively first period in which both goaltenders – Shepherd for the Lions and veteran Douglas for the Jets – were kept busy. However neither side was able to break the deadlock until the 17th minute of the period, as Slough captain Liam Underdown (16:26, assisted Lukas Smital) fired past Lions netminder Shepherd after a feed from Jets player-coach Smital. The Jets took a few minor penalties in the period – hooking against Kurt Tyrrell and roughing against Jack Lee – but the Lions were unable to convert either of the resulting powerplays. The period ended 1-0 to the home side, who were narrowly outshot 16-15 by the visitors.
2nd Period: The second period had a bit of everything, with goals and penalties flowing in regular succession. The Jets doubled their lead less than two minutes in to the period, Kurt Tyrrell (21:19, assisted Benjamin Eastwood) making it 2-0 to the home side. But after an interference call against Slough’s Luke Reynolds, the Lions halved the advantage as Nick Alley (22:57, assisted Simon Geldart) scored a powerplay goal to make it 2-1. A lack of discipline from both sides was to follow, with a total of eight minor penalties being called in the eight minutes of play following Lee Valley’s goal. The Jets were able to make one of these penalties count, going 3-1 up on the powerplay as Reynolds (31:52, assisted Nathan Darmanin and Underdown) fired past Shepherd.
The Lions refused to roll over though, getting it back to 3-2 with another powerplay goal of their own, as Samuel Awoyemi (35:53, assisted Geldart and Alley) scored his first goal of the season with Craig Cowell in the box for roughing. The game took another turn not long afterwards as Slough regained their two goal lead, Darmanin (35:54, assisted Jamie Chandler) making it 4-2 to the hosts with just over four minutes left in the period. And that was how it would stay at the second break, thanks in part to Shepherd making some outstanding saves in the Lions net. The Jets outshot the Lions 25-12 in the middle period.
3rd Period: The third period started off with a bang: Lions captain Alley was hauled down just 16 seconds into the period, and stepped up to dispatch a penalty shot (40:16) to bring it back to 4-3 and set up what looked to be a tense final period. However, things would all change just 20 seconds later: Alley was adjudged to have drawn blood from a Slough player with a high stick, and was awarded a 5 + game penalty. This not only robbed the Lions of their captain for the final period, it also put them on the penalty kill for five minutes – and the Jets punished them. First Timo Lindgren (40:45, assisted Smital and Underdown), then Smital (42:54, assisted Reynolds and Underdown) and finally Reynolds (44:12, assisted Smital) made it 7-3 during the resulting five minutes, putting the game beyond the Lions.
For the last 15 minutes of the game, the Lions battled hard as they looked to reduce the deficit, but were not able to get the puck past Douglas in the Slough net. A big chance to get back into the game arose at 44:37 as Jack Standing was ejected on a match penalty for checking to the head; but the Lions were unable to take advantage and couldn’t score any goals on the resulting major powerplay. And, with just under 10 minutes left to play, Underdown (50:06, assisted Darmanin and Smital) grabbed his second of the game to put the icing on the cake for Slough and complete an 8-3 victory.
This game was a prime example of how everything can turn on just one moment: before Nick Alley’s ejection, the Lions were only 1 goal down and pressing for an equaliser, but his game misconduct and the subsequent penalty kill knocked the stuffing out of them and they couldn’t quite recover. Yet again, a positive could be found in net, as Brett Shepherd performed admirably in what was just his second senior start, turning away 56 of 64 shots that he faced. Simon Geldart was awarded the Man of the Match award for the Lions for his two assists.
Final Score: Slough Jets 8-3 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 1-0/3-1/4-1
Shots: Slough 64-41 Lee Valley (15-16/25-12/24-13)
Penalty Minutes: Slough 47-47 Lee Valley
Scorers: Slough – Liam Underdown (2+3), Lukas Smital (1+4), Luke Reynolds (2+1), Nathan Darmanin (1+2), Timo Lindgren (1+0), Kurt Tyrrell (1+0), Benjamin Eastwood (0+1), Jamie Chandler (0+1)
Lee Valley – Nick Alley (2+1), Simon Geldart (0+2), Samuel Awoyemi (1+0)
Goaltenders: Slough – Chris Douglas (60:00 played, 41 shots/3 goals against)
Lee Valley – Brett Shepherd (60:00 played, 64 shots/8 goals against)
Man of the Match – Simon Geldart (Lee Valley)
Lions Edged Out by Huskies Again
One day after a disappointing defeat in Slough, the Lee Valley Lions had another chance to take their first victory of the season, as they welcomed the Haringey Huskies to the Den for the second London derby of the season. Haringey had beaten the Lions 8-7 at Alexandra Palace back in September, so the East London side were out for revenge in this one.
The Lions were still without injured trio Ben Duffy, Michael Crosse and Jordan Turner, as well as Matthew Hepburn, Lee Hounslow, Robin Young and Robyn Maby, meaning they had 12 skaters as well as netminding duo James Andrew and Brett Shepherd. Their visitors from Haringey brought along 15 skaters as well as goaltenders Jussi Lynch Grut and Thomas Adams.
1st Period: The Lions got off to a flying start in the first period, as they opened the scoring through former Haringey forward Ross Sin-Hidge (6:53, unassisted) with just under seven minutes having been played in the game. Haringey were then able to successfully kill off minor penalties against Dan Peters and ex-Lions forward Joe Berry as they kept the deficit down to one. In the 17th minute, Haringey got a powerplay of their own as Lions skipper Nick Alley was sent to the box for hooking, and the Huskies equalised through Lewis Jones (17:58, assisted Mark Voslinsky and Sam Park) whose shot from the blueline was deflected past Lions keeper James Andrew. The rest of the period passed without incident, with the score remaining at 1-1 at the first intermission. Lee Valley had put 11 shots on Lynch Grut while Haringey managed 14 on Andrew.
2nd Period: Just like the game against Slough the previous night, the second period in this game was also action packed. Just nine seconds in, the Lions took the lead again as Sin-Hidge (20:09, assisted Nick Alley and Matthew Hamilton) scored his second of the night after Alley forced Lynch Grut into a save. But the Huskies didn’t take long to equalise once more, captain Ben Osborne (21:12, unassisted) capitalising on a Lions defensive breakdown to level things at 2-2. Back the Lions came however, going 3-2 up as Alley (22:36, assisted Sin-Hidge) wristed an absolute beauty past Lynch Grut and under the crossbar. And the Lions had the chance to extend their lead when Chris Fox was brought down on the breakaway, but he could not convert the resulting penalty shot as Lynch Grut came up big with the save.
The Lions did extend their lead to 4-2 not long later, however, with another former Haringey man – this time Matt Brown (28:33, unassisted) – capitalising on some slack Huskies defending and unleashing a sweet backhander past Lynch Grut. But there would soon be some slack defending at the other end, as first Dan Peters (34:20, unassisted) and then Lewis Jones (38:31, unassisted) both scored after defensive lapses from Lee Valley. As the second period drew to a close, Brown (39:01, unassisted) scored his second of the night to put the Lions 5-4 up going into the final stanza, after a rollercoaster ride of a second period which had seen seven goals scored.
3rd Period: The third period would also start off with a bang, as Chris Fox took a tripping call and the Huskies scored on the resultant powerplay, Stephen Woodford (43:25, assisted Osborne and Lewis Jones) the scorer with a shot that found its way past Andrew. After the Lions successfully killed a high sticking call against Nick Alley, they found themselves a man down once again just a few minutes later with Simon Geldart in the box for hooking, and Haringey once again took advantage of the extra man with Daniel Clayton (50:45, assisted Ryan Payne and Lewis Jones) putting the Huskies 6-5 up – the first time they had led in the game.
But the Lions weren’t out of it – Chris Fox (51:05, assisted Ben Gillingham and Hamilton) tied it at six with a beautiful finish on the breakaway, and at this stage the game could have gone either way. Haringey retook the lead with just over five minutes left, Bryn Griffiths (54:48, assisted Park and Stuart Appleby) unleashing a shot from the blueline that found its way into the bottom corner of the net and made it 7-6 to the visitors. And when the Lions took yet another penalty with just a couple of minutes left, Haringey put the game to bed as Woodford (57:41, assisted Osborne) scored his second of the night and the Huskies’ fourth powerplay goal in total, leading to the final score of 8-6 in favour of the visitors.
It was another night of frustration for the Lions. They raised their game as they always do against their biggest rivals, and were arguably the better side on the night; but too many penalties and a few defensive breakdowns gifted the game to their visitors. The performances of Matt Brown – who took home the Man of the Match award – and Ross Sin-Hidge up front are worth mentioning, with both ex-Haringey forwards looking unplayable at times. If the Lions can play with the same fire and tenacity in their next few games, that elusive first win of the campaign is surely just around the corner.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 6-8 Haringey Huskies
Period Scores: 1-1/4-3/1-4
Shots: Lee Valley 38-61 Haringey (11-15/18-23/9-23)
Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 16-24 Haringey
Scorers: Lee Valley – Ross Sin-Hidge (2+1), Matt Brown (2+0), Nick Alley (1+1), Matthew Hamilton (0+2), Chris Fox (1+0), Ben Gillingham (0+1)
Haringey – Lewis Jones (2+2), Ben Osborne (1+2), Stephen Woodford (2+0), Sam Park (0+2), Daniel Clayton (1+0), Bryn Griffiths (1+0), Dan Peters (1+0), Stuart Appleby (0+1), Ryan Payne (0+1), Mark Voslinsky (0+1)
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 61 shots/8 goals against)
Haringey – Jussi Lynch Grut (60:00 played, 38 shots/6 goals against)
Man of the Match – Matt Brown (Lee Valley), Lewis Jones (Haringey)
The Lions’ next game is away to the Invicta Mustangs on Saturday 25th November, before a home game the next day as we welcome the Bristol Pitbulls to town on Sunday 26th November.