The Lee Valley Lions travelled to a newly-refurbished Slough Ice Arena on Saturday for their third game of the season against the Jets. After two heavy defeats to start the season, the Lions were hoping to kick start their campaign with a win.
However the Lions were once again short-benched; although they handed debuts to Yasin Sridhar and Tom Hnilica, and welcomed Joshua Irish back after five years away from the club, they were missing Oliver Glover, Ben Gillingham, Joe Weare, Jack Ball and captain Simon Jones – giving them 12 skaters. Steve Grout started in net.
The Jets fielded 18 skaters and started with former Lions netminder Brett Shepherd in goal.
First Period – The Lions started the game well, putting pressure on the Jets and defending well in their own end and killing off an early penalty. However another hooking penalty against Joe Berry led to another Slough powerplay which the home side converted, Sean Norris (7:09, assisted Danny Rose and Lukas Smital) firing a rocket of a slapshot past Steve Grout and into the back of the net.
The Lions got a powerplay chance of their own shortly afterwards and couldn’t convert, before then losing Tom Hnilica for twelve minutes after a 2+10 call for checking from behind. The Jets ramped the pressure up as the period went on and were rewarded with two goals within the last four minutes of the period; first Norris (16:43, assisted Smital and Liam Poulson) got the puck past Grout after sustained pressure in front of the Lions net, before player-coach Smital (18:38, assisted Norris and Timo Lindgren) got on the scoresheet himself to make it 3-0. That was how the score would stay at the end of the first period, with the Jets outshooting the Lions 27-7.
Second Period – The visitors were caught cold at the start of the second frame, Norris (20:54, assisted Smital and Sam Talbot) completing his hat-trick less than a minute into the period. And things got feisty a few minutes later when Norris objected to a hit from Yasin Sridhar which led to a shoving match; Sridhar received two for clipping and two for roughing, while Norris received 2+2 for roughing and Slough’s Luke Reynolds also received two for roughing. This put the Lions on the powerplay and they duly converted to get the score back to 1-4, Joe Berry (23:30, unassisted) showing great determination to put the puck past Jets goalie Shepherd. It was Berry’s second goal of the campaign.
Unfortunately for the Lions, their joy was to be short-lived as Lindgren (24:06, assisted Rose) scored a shorthanded goal to put Slough 5-1 up. And things would get worse for the visitors as they would ship three more goals in the next eight minutes as their legs began to tire; Talbot (26:54, assisted Simon Griffiths), Talbot again (29:48, assisted Smital) and Smital (32:56, assisted Talbot and Liam Underdown) doing the damage. In between those three goals, the Lions had created numerous chances with Tom Hnilica and Joshua Irish both coming close on a couple of occasions.
The Lions did get their second goal shortly afterwards though as Berry (34:41, unassisted) scored his second of the night to bring the score back to 8-2. Slough then went 9-2 up through Ryan Handisides (36:30, assisted Underdown and Rose) before Hnilica (39:13, assisted Nicky Brathwaite) scored his first Lions goal on his debut with a cheeky backhand over Shepherd. There was still time for Slough to score once more, Underdown (39:41, assisted Rose and Handisides) making it 10-3. That was how the period with end, with the Lions playing probably their best period of the season to date and creating numerous chances, and only being outshot 24 to 17.
Third Period – The Lions came out well at the start of period 3, forcing Liam Underdown into a delay of game penalty and then scoring on the resulting powerplay, Hnilica (42:16, assisted James Joseph) grabbing his second of the night to bring the score back to 10-4. However just 42 seconds later, the Jets got another goal through Talbot (42:58, assisted Smital and Reynolds). This seemed to take the wind out of the sails of a depleted Lions side, as the Jets started to dominate proceedings more and more and scored two further goals through Rose (44:59, assisted Handisides and Underdown) and Smital (45:29, assisted Harry Harcup and Talbot).
The Lions then lost player-coach James Joseph to a 5+game for slew-footing, putting them down to 11 skaters; they killed the first three and a half minutes of the major penalty well before finally conceding their 14th goal through Talbot (50:16, assisted Smital). The last ten minutes saw the Jets score four further goals with the Lions dead on their feet, with one each for Benjamin Eastwood, Harcup, Smital and Talbot making the final score 18-4 in favour of the Jets.
It was another frustrating game for the Lions; it was a better performance than the first two games of the season, with four goals scored and numerous chances created. But once again a short bench and tired legs cost them against a team with lots of scoring quality, as the score climbed higher and higher at the end of the game. Man of the Match for the Lions was double goal scorer Berry, while Slough’s Sam Talbot took it after scoring five goals on the night.
Final Score: Slough Jets 18-4 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 3-0/7-3/8-1
Shots: Slough Jets 86-32 Lee Valley Lions (27-7/24-17/35-8)
Penalty Minutes: Slough Jets 14-45 Lee Valley Lions
Scorers: Slough – Lukas Smital 4+9, Sam Talbot 5+4, Danny Rose 1+4, Sean Norris 3+1, Liam Underdown 1+3, Harry Harcup 1+2, Ryan Handisides 1+2, Timo Lindgren 1+1, Benjamin Eastwood 1+0, Liam Clark 0+1, Simon Griffiths 0+1, Craig Cowell 0+1, Liam Poulson 0+1, Luke Reynolds 0+1
Lee Valley – Joe Berry 2+0, Tom Hnilica 2+0, Nicky Brathwaite 0+1, James Joseph 0+1
Goaltenders: Slough – Brett Shepherd (60:00 played, 32 shots/4 goals against)
Lee Valley – Steve Grout (60:00 played, 86 shots/18 goals against)
Man of the Match – Joe Berry (Lee Valley), Sam Talbot (Slough)