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.

Special Teams Cost Lions in Cup Defeat

The Lee Valley Lions kicked off their NIHL South 2 Cup campaign on Saturday with a tight 6-3 home defeat to the Invicta Mustangs.

The score had been locked at 3-3 heading into the final ten minutes of the game, before the Mustangs scored both a 5-on-3 powerplay goal, and a shorthanded goal, to seal the two points.

The Lions will play six Cup games this season – two each against Invicta, Haringey and Bristol – in addition to their 20 league games. The first of those Cup fixtures looked like being a tasty one, as the Lions welcomed an Invicta side against whom they usually have close games – and this one would prove to be no different.

First Period: Lee Valley, who handed a debut to forward Robert Cole, started the game off well and created a couple of early chances, most notably through Joe Miller who combined well with Leonie Charles and Tyrone Wells in the build-up.

It was Invicta who struck first however, as Jake Luton buried the puck past Lions netminder James Andrew in the eighth minute to put the Kent side 1-0 up. And they soon followed that up with a second goal through Harry Blake, making it 2-0 to the Mustangs with just over 10 minutes gone.

Invicta then let poor discipline get the better of them in the remainder of the first period, taking four minor penalties – but the Lions powerplay was not able to convert any of them, with Jordan Ho coming closest to scoring for the East London side as he pinged a shot off the post.

The first period ended with the Mustangs 2-0 up, despite being outshot 12-9 by the home side.

Second Period: The Lions came out of the interval fired up and looking to get back into the game in the second period. The hosts dominated possession and created several chances, with both Miller and Ben Margerison coming close, before the Lions finally scored their first goal of the night as Joe Berry netted in the 30th minute after a stretch pass from Lewis Blore.

This cut the deficit to 1-2, and the Lions tied the game up at 2-2 later in the period thanks to another breakaway goal, this time by Jordan Ho after a pass from Simon Jones.

The home side then had several chances to take the lead, with both Leonie Charles and Jordan Ho being denied by an on-form Matthew Passmore in the Mustangs net and the score remained 2-2 going into the intermission. At the other end of the ice, Lions goalie James Andrew was also on good form as he stopped all 15 shots he faced in the second period.

Third Period: Early in the third period, Lions defenceman Richie Pickering took a slashing penalty, and this gave the Mustangs a chance on the powerplay – which they duly converted through Luton who grabbed his second of the night.

The Lions didn’t let their heads drop though, tying the score at 3-3 just 46 seconds later as player-coach James Joseph fed Berry for his second goal of the evening.

It was only in the last ten minutes that the Lions lost the game, and they had special teams to blame for that. Firstly both Tyrone Wells and James O’Brien took penalties for the Lions, gifting the Mustangs with a 5-on-3 powerplay which they duly converted through Kevin Lake to make it 4-3.

The Lions then had a 5-on-3 powerplay of their own not long afterwards, as Regan O’Neil sat two minutes for interference and Lake was tossed from the game from checking from behind. But rather than capitalise on it, the Lions instead conceded a goal as O’Neil, fresh out the penalty box after his two minutes had expired, raced into the Lions zone and finished past Andrew to make the score 5-3.

The Mustangs then seemingly put the icing on the cake in the 57th minute as Aaron Ferris made it 6-3 – but the Lions still tried their best to fight back into the game, with Ross Sin-Hidge, Richie Pickering and Jordan Ho all having chances.

However, it was not to be, with the final buzzer sounding and the Lions going down 6-3, in a game they could have won had they not conceded two powerplay goals and one shorthander.

The Lions face the same opponent next Saturday 12th October away from home, also in a Cup game. Faceoff in Gillingham will be at 17:15.

Lions Take First Point From Double Header Weekend

The Lee Valley Lions took their first point of the season in Bracknell on Saturday, losing a tight game against the Wasps in a penalty shootout after 65 minutes of hockey couldn’t separate the two sides.

Sunday’s home game against the league-leading Haringey Huskies didn’t go so well, as the Lions fell to a 14-1 defeat in their second game in as many days.

Saturday in Bracknell

First Period: In Bracknell on Saturday, the Lions slipped to a 3-0 deficit after only 14 minutes of play as the Wasps struck thrice through Casey Cornwall, Oliver Reeves and Scott Anda. The score would remain this way until the first intermission, with the Lions looking to get back into the game in the second period.

Second Period: And they definitely managed to achieve this goal, impressively bringing the game back to 3-3 by the end of the second frame.

Forward Ross Sin-Hidge (24:48, assisted Jordan Sullivan and James Joseph), playing his first Lions game in over a year after spending last season at Haringey, was the first to strike as he got the score back to 1-3 in the 25th minute, before Joe Miller (25:25, assisted Richie Pickering and Charlie Nichols) struck just 37 seconds later to narrow it further to 2-3.

The Lions then went on the powerplay in the 39th minute, and it was Hong Kong international forward Jordan Ho (38:31, assisted Sin-Hidge) who scored the game-tying goal, making the scoreline 3-3 at the end of two periods.

The Lions were also helped by some outstanding saves from netminder James Andrew, who faced 14 shots in the second period without conceding.

Third Period: Things would get even better for the Lions in the eighth minute of the third period as Ho (47:38, assisted Sullivan and Lewis Blore) struck again for his second goal of the game, again on the powerplay, to put the East London side 4-3 up.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Joshua Sherrington equalised for the Wasps a minute later, also on the powerplay.

There was to be no more scoring in regulation time, so the Lions secured a point heading into five minutes of overtime. There were also no goals in overtime, so penalty shots would determine the winner of the game – and it was the Wasps who came out on top, taking the extra point and winning the game 5-4.

Sunday vs Haringey

The Lions went into their second game in as many days on Sunday, welcoming league leaders Haringey to Lee Valley Ice Centre.

First Period: The Huskies showed their quality in the first period, racing into a 5-0 lead thanks to goals from James Pentecost, Matthew Hepburn, Stephen Woodford, Stuart Appleby and Mark Robinson.

Second Period: As the game wore on, the Lions became visibly more tired as their fresher opponents turned on the style and led 10-0 after the second period. Goals in the second frame for the Huskies came through Pentecost, Appleby, Woodford, Luke Martin-Digby and Liam Watson.

Third Period: The Huskies took an 11-0 lead early in the third period as Joseph Willingham scored a shorthanded marker, before Joe Berry (46:47, assisted Ho and Sin-Hidge) finally gave the Lions fans something to cheer about in the 47th minute, batting the puck out of the air baseball style to score a powerplay goal, with assists coming from Jordan Ho and Ross Sin-Hidge.

But the ruthless Huskies weren’t done there, as they added three more goals before the end of the game – Woodford, Pentecost and Lee Mercer completing the scoring.

It was very much a weekend of two halves for the Lions – with an impressive display on Saturday leading to their first point of the season, before being brought back down to earth by Haringey on Sunday.

The Lions are in Cup action this upcoming Saturday 5th October, as they welcome the Invicta Mustangs to Lee Valley Ice Centre. Faceoff will be at 17:30.

It was a hard-fought weekend for the Lions, playing two games in as many days and picking up their first point of the season (Photo: Phil Hutchinson)

Lions Downed by Hawks in Season Opener

After a long off-season of more than five months, the Lee Valley Lions finally kicked off the new National Ice Hockey League South 2 campaign with a home game against the Streatham Hawks.

The Lions were beaten on the night, but the end scoreline of 9-2 is not fully reflective of the game as a whole, and there were plenty of positives for the Lions coaching staff to take away from the opening game of the season.

The East London side iced 14 skaters for the game as well as netminder James Andrew, with eight players making their Lions debut. Five of the players on show for the Lions were born in 2001, giving the team a very youthful feel.

First Period: Streatham came out well in the early stages of the game and put the Lions under pressure, but found Andrew in good form in the Lee Valley net. The Hawks then let themselves down with ill-discipline, taking several penalties which disrupted their momentum in the game.

The Hawks nonetheless took the lead just after the midway point of the first period, Ryan Burgess scoring a 4-on-3 powerplay goal to put them 1-0 up at 11:02. Streatham then followed that up with another goal six minutes later, Czech forward Kamil Kinkor slotting the puck past Andrew with a precise shot at the 17:07 mark.

Lee Valley created a lot of chances towards the end of the period, with Joe Miller and newcomer Lewis Blore both testing Hawks netminder Harry Buckingham, but the Lions couldn’t quite get the puck in the net and ended the first period 2-0 down.

Second Period: The Lions came out extremely well at the start of the second period, with Hong Kong international forward Jordan Ho having a couple of chances to score and Ben Margerison also coming close.

They were finally awarded for their persistence at the 29:23 mark, as Jordan Ho scored a powerplay goal to halve Streatham’s lead, and bring the Lions back into the game at 1-2 down.

Unfortunately for the Lions, towering defenceman Daniel Tamasauskas then headed to the box for checking to the head, and Streatham’s Czech sharpshooter Kinkor punished them for that as he buried a powerplay goal to put the Hawks 3-1 up, a score that would remain until the end of the second period.

This was despite more Lions chances for Miller, Blore and Ho, who all impressed for the East London side but couldn’t quite solve the riddle of Buckingham more than once in the second frame.

Third Period: The Lions came out very slowly at the start of the third period, and were made to pay twice as Kinkor scored two more goals on the night with precise shots, putting the South Londoners into a seemingly unassailable 5-1 lead.

But the Lions didn’t let their heads dropped, and managed to get themselves back into the game in the 49th minute as Jordan Ho scored his second goal of the night with an assist from fellow newcomer Ben Margerison, to give the Lions hope at 5-2 down.

However the Lions seemed to tire in the closing stages, shipping four goals in the final seven minutes to give the scoreline a rather ugly feel; Alec Goldstone, Leo Saoncella, Harry Sage and former Lion Gus Zimmerman each had a goal to complete the scoring for the night.

It was a disappointing end to the game for the Lions, but they can take pride in the way they played in the first 40 minutes – and will feel they have unearthed a gem of a player in Jordan Ho, who scored both of his club’s goals on debut and was awarded Man of the Match for his efforts.

The Lions are next in action over the weekend of the 28th and 29th of September, travelling to Bracknell on the Saturday before hosting another London derby on the Sunday as Haringey come to town.