Rollercoaster Derby Double-Header Weekend for Lions

It was a truly up-and-down weekend for the Lee Valley Lions, as they followed up a heavy 15-3 away defeat at Haringey with an extremely tight 5-4 home defeat against the same opposition just 24 hours later.

Saturday

The Lions were missing forwards Ross Sin-Hidge (last game of his suspension), Robert Cole, Joe Berry, Joe Miller and Harry O’Brien for Saturday’s road game, as well as defenceman Richie Pickering. Getting the start in net for the Lions was James Andrew.

First Period: The league-leading Huskies, who are yet to lose a league game this season, started off like a house on fire as they racked up six goals in the first period of play through Stephen Woodford (x2), former Lions forward Matthew Hepburn (x2), Lee Mercer and Luke Martin-Digby.

At the other end, the Lions managed to bag two goals in the opening period; firstly through Harry Sage (6:19), who was making his debut for the club after signing from Streatham, and then Jordan Ho (13:08) who scored a shorthanded goal. That was already the Hong Kong international forward’s 13th tally of the season in only his ninth game for the club.

Second Period: The Huskies extended their lead to 8-2 midway through the second period with goals from Ricky Rutherford and Stuart Appleby, before the Lions made a change of netminders with Naomi Healey relieving James Andrew at the 30 minute mark.

This didn’t stem the flow of Huskies goals however, as Rutherford scored again before Huskies captain Woodford bagged his third and fourth markers of the evening to give the home side a big 11-2 lead going into the final period.

Third Period: It was the Lions who scored the third goal of the last period, as Vinnie Ferrara (42:58) grabbed his second goal of the season with an assist from James Joseph.

But as the Lions tired more and more as the period wore on, the Huskies didn’t let up. The home side scored four more goals through James Pentecost (x2), Matthew Hepburn who completed a hat-trick, and Stephen Woodford who rounded things off with his 5th goal of the night, for a very one-sided final score of 15-3 to Haringey.

Sunday

The same two sides then met again at Lee Valley Ice Centre the very next day, this time in NIHL South 2 Cup action. The Lions welcomed back Sin-Hidge, Berry, Miller and Pickering for this game, giving them a much healthier bench size of 17 players. James Andrew once again got the nod between the pipes.

First Period: The Lions definitely showed they had a point to prove, starting the game strongly and putting the Huskies under real pressure. And it was the home side that opened the scoring in the ninth minute, 18-year-old forward Lewis Blore (8:17) getting his first goal of the season after defenceman Oscar Kally – playing just his second game for the Lions – showed great attacking instincts to take the puck into the offensive zone, which led to the goal.

However it was 1-1 just a minute later as James Pentecost equalised for the Huskies; and the visitors then went 2-1 up late in the opening period through former Lions forward Ben Duffy after a defensive breakdown for the home side. The score remained 2-1 at the end of the first period – much improved from a Lions perspective compared to the previous evening.

Second Period: The opening six minutes of the middle period would prove to be crucial in the game, as the Huskies came out very well and scored three more goals through Mark Robinson, Ryan Payne and James Hepburn – all former Lions players – to make it 5-1 to the visitors in the 26th minute.

This would have left some Lions fans feeling a sense of déjà vu and fearing another heavy defeat, but instead the home side raised their game once again, creating several chances and finally getting rewarded in the 39th minute as Simon Jones took a slapshot from the blueline and Joe Berry (38:22) tucked home the rebound on the powerplay, to get the deficit back to 2-5 from a Lions perspective.

Third Period: And the last period would start out very well for the Lions as Ross Sin-Hidge (45:00) celebrated his first game back after a four match ban, scoring a goal on the breakaway after a superb steal from Jordan Sullivan in the Lions defensive zone. This brought the score back to 3-5 with 15 minutes left to play.

The rest of the game was frantic, with chances at both ends; the Lions cut the deficit even further in the 56th minute as Jordan Ho (55:18) tucked the puck home from a tight angle for his 14th goal of the season, making it 4-5 with four minutes to go.

But try as they might, the Lions were not able to score that equalising goal, despite pulling netminder James Andrew for an extra attacker late on. As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions went down to an agonisingly close 5-4 defeat after what was likely their best performance of the season.

Oscar Kally took home the Player of the Game award for the Lions after making a good impression on the blueline, with Stuart Appleby taking home the same award for the visitors.

The Lions are next in action against Peterborough this upcoming Saturday 16th November in league action. Faceoff at Lee Valley Ice Centre will be at 17:30.

Lions Suffer Narrow Road Defeat in Streatham

The Lee Valley Lions travelled south of the river on Sunday night, visiting the Streatham Hawks for the first time this season. The two sides had met back in September at Lee Valley Ice Centre, with the Hawks skating away with a 9-2 win on the night.

The Lions were missing forwards Ross Sin-Hidge (suspended) and Jordan Sullivan for this game. Starting in net for the East London side was James Andrew.

First Period: The Lions came out well in the opening period, creating several chances early on and forcing Streatham netminder John Abbott into some good saves.

The visitors were rewarded for their efforts in the sixth minute, as Robert Cole (5:49, assisted Joe Berry and Jordan Ho) scored his second goal for the Lions in as many games as he tapped home a rebound after a shot from Joe Berry. Also involved in the build-up was Jordan Ho.

As the period wore on, the Hawks had more chances – including a two-minute powerplay as the Lions had too many men on the ice – but Lions goalie Andrew stopped all 11 shots in the period, with Lee Valley taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

Second Period: The Hawks came out quickly to start the second period, and equalised just over two minutes in as Ryan Burgess scored after inventive build-up play from former Lions favourite Gus Zimmerman, who is now captain of the Hawks.

Despite a combined total of 33 shots in the period – 18 for the Hawks and 15 for the Lions – there were to be no more goals until the second intermission, with both netminders Abbott and Andrew playing excellently in net for their respective sides.

Third Period: The final period would turn out to be a crazy one, with a combined total of 37 shots being fired at both nets, and eight goals being scored. The Hawks started off the scoring through Ryan Burgess, who used his speed well to get through the Lions backline and fire home to put Streatham 2-1 up.

But the Lions fought back, with Jordan Ho (44:37, assisted Lewis Blore) grabbing his 12th goal of the season in eight matches with a lovely snipe, assisted by Lewis Blore. This made the score 2-2 in the 45th minute, but the Hawks would re-take the lead just 28 seconds later as William Poles put them 3-2 up.

Things would then get worse for the Lions in the 48th minute, with Richie Pickering taking a two minute penalty for cross-checking and Gus Zimmerman scoring a one-timer to make it 4-2. Zimmerman then followed that up with a back-hander six minutes later, putting the Hawks 5-2 up in the 56th minute and seemingly killing the game off.

But the Lions refused to go down without a fight, and got the score back to 5-3 in the 57th minute with a powerplay goal of their own – Joe Berry taking a shot from the blue line and Daniel Tamasauskas (56:38, assisted Joe Berry and Robert Cole), usually a defencemen but stationed in front of the net on the powerplay, tipping the puck home.

And despite Lions forward Ben Margerison taking a two minute penalty for a late hit with just 1:30 to play, it was the Lions who would score next. Joe Berry (59:34, assisted Jordan Ho) took a stretch pass from Jordan Ho, went past two Streatham defencemen and backhanded the puck past Abbott to get the score back to 5-4 with 25 seconds left in the game.

Agonisingly for the Lions, with just 12 seconds left in the game, the Hawks completed the scoring as Isabell Whiteley made it 6-4, killing off all hopes of a late Lions equaliser.

Nonetheless, it was one of the Lions’ best performances of the season so far, and is a good sign of things to come as they search for their first win of the campaign. Player of the game for the Lions was Joe Berry for a goal and two assists, while Isabell Whiteley took home the award for the Hawks.

The Lions are next in action this upcoming weekend with back-to-back games against Haringey. First up is an away league game on Saturday 9th November, followed by a home NIHL South 2 Cup game on Sunday 10th November.

Lions Defeated by Pitbulls in Cup Action

The Lee Valley Lions continued their NIHL South 2 Cup campaign on Sunday night, as they welcomed the Bristol Pitbulls to Lee Valley Ice Centre for the first of two meetings between the sides this season.

The Lions were missing forwards Ross Sin-Hidge and Joe Berry as well as defenceman Simon Jones, and handed a first start between the pipes to netminder Naomi Healey.

First Period: The opening period got off to the worst possible start for the Lions, as they conceded just 1:31 into the game with Richard Hargreaves getting the opening goal for the visitors. The home side didn’t let the early goal get to them though, creating several chances – particularly through Charlie Nichols and Joe Miller – but unable to get the puck past Pitbulls goalie Graeme Bird.

As the period wore on, the Pitbulls created more chances but Healey in the Lions net was equal to them – until the 16th minute when Bristol went 2-0 up through Nathan Darmanin. There would be no more scoring in the first period, with Bristol taking a 2-0 lead into the break.

Second Period: The Lions started the second period on the powerplay with Bristol’s Daniel Williams in the box for interference, and took full advantage of the opportunity as Robert Cole (21:27, assisted Jordan Sullivan) scored his first goal in a Lions jersey to halve the deficit to 1-2, with the assist coming from Jordan Sullivan.

The hosts then started taking too many penalties, with Bristol eventually taking advantage with a powerplay goal from Jordan Jefferies to make it 3-1 in the 29th minute.

And while the Lions had several chances to get back in the game in the latter stages of the second period, with both Tyrone Wells and Jordan Ho going close, it was Bristol who were to get the last goal of the period as Jamie Newton made it 4-1 to the visitors in the 39th minute, and the score would remain that way heading into the final period.

Third Period: A recurring theme for the Lions this season has been third period collapses and, sadly for them, the same would happen in this game. Bristol scored six goals uninterrupted between the 42nd and 58th minutes to well and truly take the game out of reach of the hosts – Daniel Williams, Adrian Smith (x2), Richard Hargreaves, Zachary Dolphin and Joshua Dolphin doing the damage.

The Lions did have something to cheer in the final two minutes of the game, as Hong Kong international Jordan Ho – usually a forward but filling in as a defenceman for the second game in a row – scored two late markers to narrow the deficit to 10-3. Jordan Sullivan got assists on both of the goals, while Vincenzo Ferrara also got a helper on the last one.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions once again went down to a heavy defeat due to a poor third period, after two good periods to start the game. Man of the Match for the Lions was three assist man Jordan Sullivan, while Adrian Smith took home the award for the Pitbulls.

The Lions are next in action in a league game at Streatham on Sunday 3rd November. Faceoff in South London will be at 18:30.

Depleted Lions Defeated by Mustangs

After back-to-back Cup defeats to the Invicta Mustangs, the Lee Valley Lions welcomed the same opponents to East London on Saturday for the first league meeting between the sides this season.

The Lions were out for revenge, but their cause wasn’t helped by a number of first team players being unavailable for the fixture. In the end, a depleted Lions side went down to a tired 11-4 defeat.

With both Daniel Tamasauskas and James O’Brien unavailable for selection, the Lions only had three defencemen available for this game, meaning that forward Vinnie Ferrara dropped back to help bring that number up to four.

The East London side were also missing forwards Ross Sin-Hidge (banned after being ejected from last week’s game for fighting), Charlie Nichols and Jordan Sullivan.

First Period: The opening period started off pretty poorly for the Lions, going 2-0 down within the first ten minutes as Harry Blake and Regan O’Neil both scored for the visiting Mustangs.

The Lions hit back in the 16th minute though; forward Joe Berry charged into the zone with the puck and was tripped, and in the ensuing scramble as Berry lay on the ice behind the goal, Jordan Ho (15:12, assisted James Joseph and Ben Margerison) put the puck in the net to halve the deficit to 2-1. The assists went to James Joseph and Ben Margerison, but Berry deserves special mention for starting the move off.

The first period ended with the Lions 2-1 down, having been out-shot 17-14 by the visitors.

Second Period: Lee Valley started the middle period with some 5-on-3 powerplay time, which they couldn’t convert. At the other end, the Mustangs punished them for this as they went 4-1 up within the first five minutes of the period, with goals from Jake Luton and Richard Harris.

The Lions showed good spirit after going 4-1 down though, creating several chances and finally being rewarded in the 31st minute as female forward Leonie Charles (30:58, assisted Ben Margerison) scored her first goal in a Lions jersey with a tight angle shot that got through Mustangs goalie Matthew Passmore’s defences. The assist went to Margerison, who got his second helper of the night.

That brought the deficit back to 4-2, and things would get even better for the Lions five minutes later as Jordan Ho (35:03, assisted Joe Berry) grabbed his second goal of the game – already his ninth of the season in six games – with the assist coming from Berry. This got the score back to 4-3, with the Lions hoping to go into the second intermission just a goal down.

However things would take a turn for the worse with just under two minutes left in the second period, as Jake Luton scored a shorthanded goal for the Mustangs to put the Kent side 5-3 up heading into the intermission.

Third Period: That goal at the end of the second period seemed to be a killer for the already-tiring Lions, who didn’t come out sharply for the third frame at all and were punished by three goals from Michael Stokes, Kevin Lake and Finnley Taylor; putting Invicta 8-3 up.

The Lions’ cause was also not helped by stand-in defenceman Vinnie Ferrara picking up a knock, forcing prolific forward Jordan Ho to make up the numbers at the back rather than playing in his preferred position up front.

Vinnie Ferrara did eventually make it back onto the ice during the third period, and it was him who scored the Lions’ fourth goal of the game (54:40, assisted Jordan Ho and Joe Miller), finishing past Mustangs goalie Passmore on the breakaway after good build-up play from Joe Miller and Jordan Ho.

But the Lions’ small roster was fully exposed towards the end of the game, as a rampant Mustangs side scored three more goals to put the cherry on the cake from their perspective; Jake Luton completed his hat-trick before Thomas Dennis and Richard Harris completed the scoring.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions slipped to a disappointing 11-4 home defeat. Player of the Game for the Lions was the impressive Leonie Charles after her first goal for the club, while hat-trick man Jake Luton took home the award for the Mustangs.

The Lions will be hoping for a better performance – and hopefully for a few of the injured players to be back in action – as they welcome the Bristol Pitbulls to Lee Valley Ice Centre for a Cup game on Sunday 27th October. Faceoff will be at 17:30.

Lions Downed by Mustangs in Ill-Tempered Clash

The Lee Valley Lions continued their NIHL South 2 Cup campaign on Saturday, travelling to Kent to take on the Invicta Mustangs.

The Mustangs had downed the Lions 6-3 in East London the previous weekend, so the visitors were out for revenge – but the game wouldn’t go the Lions’ way, as they slipped to a 10-4 loss.

First Period: The Lions, who were missing defenceman Daniel Tamasauskas as well as forwards Joe Berry, Robert Cole and Leonie Charles, had a disastrous start to the game as they went 4-0 down within the first 20 minutes.

Anthony Baskerville opened the scoring for the Mustangs, before Richard Harris bagged a brace and Jake Luton also grabbed a goal for the hosts.

The Lions were also unable to take advantage of three powerplay chances, and thus went into the first break 4-0 behind.

Second Period: Any hopes that the period break would bring an improvement for the East London side were washed away just 13 seconds into the middle frame, as Kevin Lake made it 5-0 for the Mustangs. Things got worse just a couple of minutes later, as Lions forward Tyrone Wells took a two minute penalty plus a ten minute misconduct for boarding, and Aaron Ferris made it a half dozen goals for the Mustangs on the resulting powerplay.

The game settled down for a while after this, with no goals falling in the next ten minutes. When a goal finally did come, it was for the Lions who cut the deficit to 1-6, with Jordan Ho getting his sixth goal of the season with an assist from his namesake Jordan Sullivan.

A few minutes later, the Lions got another goal back as Ross Sin-Hidge scored, assisted by the aforementioned Ho and Sullivan, to bring the score back to 2-6 from the Lions’ perspective.

But they couldn’t keep that positive momentum going for the entire period, as first Richard Harris and then Joseph Bliss scored for the home side to put them 8-2 up going into the final period.

Third Period: The Lions handed a debut to netminder Naomi Healey in the third period, as she replaced starter James Andrew between the pipes. With the Mustangs fielding Lucy Gruber in their net, it meant there were female netminders playing for both sides in the final 20 minutes.

The final period was to be a long and not particularly pretty one, as both teams racked up a combined total of 91 penalty minutes for a variety of infractions.

At the 44 minute mark, Sin-Hidge grabbed his second goal of the game for the Lions, making the score 3-8 from their perspective. Not long afterwards, Mustangs defenceman Jarvis Mewett received 14 penalty minutes for a late hit and a check to the head – but his side hit back just 10 seconds later with a shorthanded goal through Bliss to put them 9-3 ahead.

The Lions then got a 4-on-3 powerplay in the 52nd minute, and converted it through Jordan Ho who scored his second goal of the game and seventh of the season, assisted by Sin-Hidge. This cut the Lions’ deficit to 4-9. Shortly afterwards, the first of two fights in the game kicked off, as Lions defenceman Richie Pickering dropped the gloves and fought with Invicta’s Aaron Ferris.

The scoring for the game was completed in the 57th minute as the Mustangs capped off a 10-4 scoreline with a goal from Anthony Baskerville. But that wasn’t the end of the game’s storylines; Baskerville himself would then drop the gloves and fight with Lee Valley’s Ross Sin-Hidge with just a couple of minutes left in the game. Baskerville would receive four penalty minutes, while Sin-Hidge was tossed from the game to complete a busy night for the forward.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions went down to a disappointing 10-4 road defeat in the Cup, in a game with a total of 123 penalty minutes.

The East London side will look to bounce straight back this coming Saturday, as they face the Mustangs for the third week in a row. This time it will be a league game, with the Lions playing at home.

Faceoff at Lee Valley Ice Centre will be at 17:30 on Saturday 19th October.