EIHA Confirms League Format for 2019-20 Season

The English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) today confirmed the format of all National Ice Hockey League competitions for the upcoming 2019-20 season.

The Lee Valley Lions will be playing in NIHL Division 2 South alongside 11 other teams: Guildford Phoenix, Bracknell IHC 3, Bristol Pitbulls, Peterborough Phantoms 2, Invicta Mustangs, Haringey Huskies, Basingstoke Buffalo, Swindon Wildcats 2, Lee Valley Lions, Streatham Bruins, Solent Devils 2 and Cardiff Fire 2.

Cardiff’s second team were accepted pending final agreement for ice time at their home venue; once Cardiff’s participation is confirmed, then the structure for the regular season will be announced along with playoffs.

There will also be a South 2 Cup this season which will culminate in a Cup Final Weekend.

Lions Lose Season Finale to Bristol

The Lee Valley Lions ended their 2018-19 NIHL South Division 2 league campaign on Saturday with a 10-4 road defeat to the Bristol Pitbulls.

Czech forward Tom Hnilica grabbed a brace to end the season on 22 goals, with Conner Smith and Ben Gillingham also netting for a decimated Lions side that only had 11 skaters available for the game.

First Period: The Lions did take the lead early in the opening period, as Conner Smith (5:31) struck in the sixth minute with assists from Joe Miller and Calum Heath. It was the fifth goal of the season for 17-year-old Smith, who had also scored two goals against the Pitbulls on his Lions debut back in December.

The Pitbulls came back just 70 seconds later, equalising through Olly Shone, before Adrian Smith put them 2-1 up in the 11th minute on the powerplay.

The score stayed this way until the last minute of the first period, when the Lions had a defensive collapse and shipped three goals inside 26 seconds. Josh Galea, Josh Dolphin and Adrian Smith were all on target to give the Pitbulls a 5-1 lead going into the second period.

Second Period: The Lions started off well in the middle frame, holding off the Pitbulls and limiting them to just one goal as Nathan Chilcott scored a powerplay marker in the 33rd minute.

The visitors were then able to bounce back just five seconds later, Hnilica (33:02) grabbing his 21st of the season to cut the deficit to 6-2.

There was to be no more scoring in the second period, despite the Pitbulls putting a total of 27 shots on Lions netminder James Andrew.

Third Period: The final period didn’t start off well for the Lions, as they conceded three goals to go 9-2 down; Adrian Smith completed his hat-trick while Matthew Thornhill – in his final game for the Pitbulls before retiring – and Jamie Newton also netted.

The visitors got one back in the 54th minute as Ben Gillingham (53:29) grabbed his first goal of the season, assists coming from Hnilica and captain Simon Jones, to make it 9-3.

Bristol completed their scoring for the evening not long afterwards, Australian forward David Manning putting the icing on the cake and giving the Pitbulls a 10-3 lead.

But the Lions were to score the final goal of the game, with Hnilica (59:07) netting with just 53 seconds left to bring his personal goal tally up to 22 on the season, and giving the Lions their fourth of the evening.

The game ended 10-4 in favour of the Pitbulls, with hat-trick man Adrian Smith being awarded Man of the Match for Bristol and his namesake Conner Smith receiving the award for the Lions.

That concludes the season for the Lions, who will be back in September for a new NIHL South Division 2 campaign.

The Lee Valley Lions would like to thank everyone associated with the team for their efforts and support this season.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Bristol Pitbulls 10-4 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 5-1/1-1/4-2

Shots: Bristol 76-26 Lee Valley (32-8/27-7/17-11)

Penalty Minutes: Bristol 8-10 Lee Valley

Scorers: Bristol – Josh Dolphin 1+4, Adrian Smith 3+0, Jamie Newton 1+2, Nathan Chilcott 1+2, Steve Osman 0+3, David Manning 1+1, Richard Hargreaves 0+2, Josh Galea 1+0, Olly Shone 1+0, Matthew Thornhill 1+0, Adam Coakley 0+1, Thomas Asprey 0+1, Tom Egerton 0+1
Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+1, Ben Gillingham 1+0, Conner Smith 1+0, Calum Heath 0+1, Joe Miller 0+1, Simon Jones 0+1

Goaltenders: Bristol– Andrew Leckie (60:00 played, 26 shots/4 goals against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 76 shots/10 goals against)

Man of the Match – Conner Smith (Lee Valley), Adrian Smith (Bristol)




Lions Suffer Defeat in Final Home Game

The Lee Valley Lions went down to a 10-2 defeat against the Romford Raiders 2’s in their last home game of the NIHL South 2 season.

The Lions got a brace of goals from Czech forward Tom Hnilica, but didn’t have much else to cheer about on a tough Sunday night.

First Period: In the early stages, the Raiders raced out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Brandon Webster and Samuel Austin, before Hnilica (9:33) cut the deficit to 2-1 with a powerplay goal for the Lions in the 10th minute. Assists on the Lions goal came from Joe Berry and Dexter Crawford.

That assist for veteran forward Berry meant that he reached career best tallies for assists (16) and points (25) in a single season for the Lions, in his 11th season for the club.

There was to be no more scoring in the first period, with both James Andrew in the Lions net and Brad Windebank between the pipes for the Raiders making some great saves to keep the score low.

Second Period: The middle period started off tightly, with neither side able to solve the riddle of the opposing netminder in the early stages. That changed in the 26th minute as Tommy Huggett put the Raiders 3-1 in front.

And the Lions then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot in the 32nd minute, conceding two goals whilst on the powerplay; Webster and George Gell doing the damage to put the Raiders 5-1 up.

The home side did hit back in the 38th minute however, Hnilica (37:07) scoring his second of the game with an assist coming from Oliver Glover.

It was Hnilica’s 20th goal of the season – the first Lion to reach this landmark since Blair Dubyk and Scott Beeson both achieved the feat eight seasons ago.

Third Period: The final period was rather stop-start, with numerous penalties disrupting the flow of the game. Lions player-coach James Joseph and Raiders defenceman Stevie Dunnage dropped the gloves in the 46th minute and each received four penalty minutes for fighting.

As has so often been the case this season, the Lions tired late on in the game and conceded a number of late goals, giving the scoreline a rather one-sided look. In this case, they shipped five goals in the last 16 minutes of the game, with Ewan Hill (twice), Jake Hall, Huggett and Gell all on target for the Raiders.

At the other end, Windebank continued to put in a strong performance in the Raiders net, with the Lions unable to score a goal in the third period.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Lions went down 10-2 in their last home game of the season, having been out-shot 59-27 by the visiting Raiders.

Man of the Match for the Lions was double goal scorer Hnilica, while Raiders netminder Windebank took home the same award for his side.

The Lions have one game left this season, as they face the Bristol Pitbulls away from home on Saturday 6th April. Faceoff at Oxford Ice Rink will be at 5pm.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 2-10 Romford Raiders 2

Period Scores: 1-2/1-3/0-5

Shots: Lee Valley 27-59 Romford (7-17/13-21/7-21)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 18-16 Romford

Scorers: Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+0, Dexter Crawford 0+1, Joe Berry 0+1, Oliver Glover 0+1
Romford – Brandon Webster 2+4, George Gell 2+2, Tommy Huggett 2+2, Ewan Hill 2+1, Sam Roberts 0+3, Samuel Austin 1+0, Jake Hall 1+0, Matt Brown 0+1, Ellie Wakeling 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 59 shots/10 goals against)
Romford – Bradley Windebank (60:00 played, 27 shots/2 goals against)

Man of the Match – Tom Hnilica (Lee Valley), Bradley Windebank (Romford)



Lions Overpowered in Guildford

The Lee Valley Lions went down 9-2 in Guildford to the Phoenix on Sunday, in their penultimate road game of the season.

Goals from Conner Smith and Richard Hodge weren’t enough for the Lions, with Guildford taking a win that locked them into a fifth place finish in NIHL South Division 2 this season.

The Lions were able to welcome back several players who had missed the previous few games; however top scorer Tom Hnilica was absent for the East London side.

And the hosts dominated proceedings in the first period, peppering Lions netminder James Andrew with 26 shots in the opening frame, while the Lions could only manage five.

However only one of those 26 Guildford shots were able to find a way through Andrew’s defences, as Luke Tull scored in the tenth minute to put the Phoenix 1-0 up.

For the remaining ten minutes of the period, both Andrew and the Lions defence held firm to go into the first intermission with a one goal deficit.

The Phoenix came out strong at the start of the second period, racing into a 3-0 lead just two minutes in thanks to goals from Bailey Wootton and Andrew Hemmings.

But the Lions roared back in the 26th minute to cut the deficit to 3-1, as Conner Smith (25:30) scored his fourth goal of the season with assists from Simon Jones and Dexter Crawford.

17-year-old Smith recently played two games for the Streatham Redhawks in the league above, and the confidence that those appearances must have given him was on full display as he finished past Guildford netminder Sam Calder.

Guildford would go on to score just one more goal in the second period, as Josh Abbott netted in the 37th minute, with the Phoenix taking a 4-1 lead into the final frame. Lions netminder Andrew was once again strong in the second period, turning away 23 shots to keep his side in the game.

The Phoenix were then able to extend their lead to 5-1 early in the final period as Hemmings scored his second of the night, but the Lions then bounced back again as Richard Hodge (44:38) scored his fourth goal of the season to narrow Guildford’s lead to 5-2. The assist on Hodge’s goal came from Alex Clarke.

As the final period wore on, the Phoenix were able to demonstrate why they will finish the season ten places above the Lions, as they added four more goals through Hemmings (completing his hat-trick), Abbott, Tull, and Jack Woodstock to take a 9-2 win when the final buzzer sounded.

Man of the Match for the Lions was goaltender Andrew, who had an extremely busy night between the pipes facing 77 shots and making 68 saves.

The Lions are next in action on Sunday 24th March, as they take on the Romford Raiders’ NIHL2 team. It will be the Lions’ final home game of the season, with faceoff at Lee Valley Ice Centre scheduled for 17:30.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Guildford Phoenix 9-2 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 1-0/3-1/5-1

Shots: Guildford 77-19 Lee Valley (26-5/26-8/25-6)

Penalty Minutes: Guildford 8-30 Lee Valley

Scorers: Guildford – Andrew Hemmings 3+3, Josh Abbott 2+2, Jared Lane 0+4, Bailey Wootton 1+2, Luke Tull 2+0, Jack Woodstock 1+0, Monty Gailer 0+1, Matthew Tull 0+1, Harry Hatfield 0+1, Jacob Rondeau-Smith 0+1, Joe Stephenson 0+1
Lee Valley – Conner Smith 1+0, Richard Hodge 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1, Dexter Crawford 0+1, Alex Clarke 0+1

Goaltenders: Guildford – Sam Calder (60:00 played, 19 shots/2 goals against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 77 shots/9 goals against)

Man of the Match – James Andrew (Lee Valley)

Lions Grounded by High-Flying Jets

The Lee Valley Lions suffered a heavy defeat to league leaders Slough on Saturday evening, going down 15-4 at home.

The Jets came into the game riding an unbeaten streak of 21 games in a row, so the Lions knew they would have a tough game on their hands.

Around half of the Lions roster was unavailable for the game, leaving the home side with just 12 skaters; while the Jets were able to ice a full roster of 20.

First Period: A tough task got even tougher for the Lions early on, as versatile player Gus Zimmerman suffered an ankle injury after falling awkwardly following a collision with a Jets player, and he had to be helped from the ice.

Zimmerman played no further part in the game, leaving the Lions with just 11 skaters for the remainder of the contest.

The Lions held off the Jets charge for a while despite the numbers disadvantage, but towards the end of the first period the Jets started to turn on the style, and were rewarded as goals from Luke Smital and Adam Rosbottom put the visitors 2-0 up.

The home side fought back though, halving the deficit in the 19th minute through a Joe Miller (18:45, assisted Richard Hodge) goal. The Lions thus trailed 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

Second Period: Slough extended their advantage to 4-1 at the midpoint of the game thanks to goals from Dan Rose and Bradley Hildreth, but the Lions still hoped to keep the scoreline close as the game wore on.

However, the home side conceded four more goals towards the end of the second period as they began to tire. Rose scored twice to complete his hat-trick, with Rosbottom also grabbing his second of the night and Jets player-coach Lukas Smital getting the other goal.

The Lions’ second goal of the evening was sandwiched in between the Jets’ sixth and seventh goals, as Czech forward Tom Hnilica (36:25, assisted Joe Berry) scored his 17th goal of the season. The score was thus 8-2 in favour of the Jets heading into the third period.

Third Period: Unfortunately for the Lions, the final period brought more of the same as their tired legs couldn’t cope with the rampant league leaders. Slough added a further seven goals in the final period to complete a rout, with Rosbottom grabbing two more, Lukas Smital scoring his second, and further tallies coming through Ryan Handisides (two goals), Juha Lindgren and Tom Fisher.

There were a few high points for the Lions fans to cheer during the last period though; Joe Berry (49:58, assisted Jordan Sullivan) crowned a successful return from injury with a goal, while Hnilica (59:55, assisted Berry) grabbed his second of the night and 18th of the season with just five seconds to go in the game.

The final buzzer sounded with the Jets taking a comfortable victory and extending their unbeaten streak to 22 games on the bounce.

Man of the Match for the Lions was Hnilica, while four-goal man Rosbottom took home the award for the Jets.

The Lions are next in action on Sunday 17th March, as they travel to Surrey to take on the Guildford Phoenix. Faceoff at the Spectrum will be at 18:15.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 4-15 Slough Jets

Period Scores: 1-2/1-6/2-7

Shots: Lee Valley 34-68 Slough (12-20/9-20/13-28)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 6-10 Slough

Scorers: Lee Valley – Joe Berry 1+2, Tom Hnilica 2+0, Joe Miller 1+0, Jordan Sullivan 0+1, Richard Hodge 0+1
Slough – Adam Rosbottom 4+2, Daniel Rose 3+2, Lukas Smital 2+3, Ryan Handisides 2+2, Luke Smital 1+2, Tom Fisher 1+1, Juha Lindgren 1+1, Simon Griffiths 0+2, Harry Harcup 0+2, Bradley Hildreth 1+0, Jamie Chandler 0+1, Harry Wright 0+1, Luke Dreelan 0+1, Robert Horsfall 0+1, Liam Poulson 0+1, Luke Reynolds 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (37:40 played, 36 shots/7 goals against); Steve Grout (22:20 played, 32 shots/8 goals conceded)
Slough – Matthew Smital (29:23 played, 19 shots/1 goal against); Brett Shepherd (30:37 played, 15 shots/3 goals against)

Man of the Match – Tom Hnilica (Lee Valley), Adam Rosbottom (Slough)