Lions Outclassed by Hornets

It was a tough night at the office for the Lions against Bracknell (Photo: Tori Rigby)

The Lee Valley Lions faced a stiff test on Sunday night, playing host to the Bracknell Hornets. The Hornets were flying high in fourth place in the standings, while the Lions were still searching for their first win of the season.

The Lions were unable to call on the services of Joe Miller, Gus Zimmerman, Ben Gillingham, Jordan Sullivan, Joe Weare or Jack Ball for this game, but handed a debut to defenceman Jake Wadge. This gave them 13 skaters, with Steve Grout starting in goal and James Andrew backing up.

The Hornets travelled to Lee Valley with 15 skaters plus netminders Will Sanderson and Rory Edwards. The Bracknell side featured many players who have previously played at a higher level, so looked sure to give the Lions a very tough game.

First Period – The Lions unfortunately slipped back into an old habit of conceding a goal very early in the game, as the Hornets went 1-0 up after just 38 seconds; Daniel Clayton (0:38, assisted Josh Ealey-Newman and Ben Ealey-Newman) slotting past Grout after good build-up play from the Ealey-Newman brothers. Lions fans would have been forgiven for expecting an onslaught to follow, but instead in the next few minutes of the game the home side were able to stabilise themselves and create a few chances of their own which Sanderson in the Hornets net could turn away.

At the other end. Bracknell captain Jack Tarczycki then hit the pipes twice in quick succession with hard slapshots as the Hornets started to exert their authority on the game. However the Lions were able to tie the score up just after the five minute mark, Michael Jacobs (5:14, assisted Nicky Brathwaite) getting his second goal in as many games after scoring his first of the season last week in Cardiff.

For the next five minutes following the opening goal, the Lions gave a good account of themselves and kept the score at 1-1, until the Hornets went back into the lead just past the 10 minute mark; Steve Fisher (10:19, assisted Harvey Hind-Pitcher) putting them back in front. Worse was to follow for the Lions shortly after as starting netminder Steve Grout took a puck to the helmet and had to leave the ice, to be replaced by James Andrew. And shortly after Andrew had come into the net, the Hornets extended their lead to 3-1 through J. Ealey-Newman (13:25, assisted B. Ealey-Newman and Connor Hutchison) with Lions forward Nicky Brathwaite in the box for tripping.

A flurry of Hornets goals then followed to extend the score to 6-1, with B. Ealey-Newman (14:12, assisted J. Ealey-Newman and Matt Jordan)J. Ealey-Newman (16:21, assisted Conor Sheehan) and Liam Rasmussen (19:34, assisted Fisher and Tarczycki) all doing the damage. However there was still time in the period for the Lions to get one back, Czech forward Tom Hnilica (19:51, assisted Ollie Glover and Michael Jacobs) sniping past Sanderson for his fourth goal of the season to get the score back to 6-2 at the end of period one.

Second Period – The Hornets swapped netminders to begin the second period, with 16-year-old Rory Edwards replacing Sanderson between the pipes. And he was called into action in the first few minutes of the period as the Lions looked to get back in the game, stopping chances from Nicky Brathwaite and Simon Jones to keep the Lions at bay.

The Hornets then effectively put the game to bed in the 27th minute with a spell of three goals within 35 seconds; Jakub Fojtik (26:12, assisted Hutchison and Luke Jackson)Fojtik again (26:35, assisted William Stead) and Fisher (26:47, assisted Rasmussen and Jordan) increasing the score to 9-2. The Hornets then could have extended the lead even further – James O’Brien brought down a Bracknell forward on the breakaway and a penalty shot was awarded – but James Andrew denied Steve Fisher on the subsequent penalty shot.

However the Hornets did grab the tenth goal just after the half hour mark, Fojtik (30:03, assisted Hind-Pitcher and Stead) completing his hat-trick, before Rasmussen (31:47, assisted Fisher and Cameron Barker) made it 11-2 soon afterwards. The Lions tried to create some chances, with Jacobs coming close to his second of the game but being denied by Edwards, before the Hornets rounded out the scoring for the second period as B. Ealey-Newman (38:44, unassisted) made it 12-2.

Third Period – The final period of the game was really a question of whether the Hornets would dial it back against their tiring opponents – but this question was answered with an emphatic “no” just 56 seconds into the period as J. Ealey-Newman (40:56, assisted Fojtik) made it an unlucky 13 for the Lions and completed his hat-trick too. The Lions still pressured the away side, looking to score a few goals and get some pride back in the game – Joe Berry went close on two separate occasions but both times he was denied by Edwards in the Hornets net.

However as the period went on, the Lions got more and more tired, while the Hornets showed all of their skill and speed on the puck as they punished their opponents with a flurry of goals. B. Ealey-Newman, Clayton (x2), Fojtik, J. Ealey-Newman, Stead and Tarczycki all netted between the 46th and 57th minutes to push the score up to 20-2, with almost every Hornets attack seemingly leading to a goal as they turned on the style.

Despite the hugely one-sided scoreline, the Lions still tried their best to at least get a goal or two back; Tom Hnilica came closest with an accurate shot but Edwards in the Hornets net stood firm once again. The away side completed their scoring in the final minute of the game as Tomas Gilheany (59:03, assisted Fisher) made it 21-2; but there was still time for the Lions to give their fans something to cheer as Yasin Sridhar – usually a defenceman but deployed as a forward in this game – grabbed his first goal for the Lions (59:59, assisted Glover and Brathwaite) with a buzzer-beater right at the end of the game.

Michael Jacobs took home the Man of the Match award for the Lions after being involved in all three goals (he picked up one goal and two assists), while the Hornets’ 16-year-old netminder Rory Edwards took home the award for the visitors having only been beaten right at the end of the game.

A night to forget for a Lions side that is still finding chemistry and adding new players to the roster, as they were outclassed by a Hornets side that showed why they are eleven places above the Lions in the league. The Lions will now regroup and look to take something from next weekend’s two away games in Haringey and Romford.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 3-21 Bracknell Hornets

Period Scores: 2-6/0-6/1-9

Shots: Lee Valley Lions 19-73 Bracknell Hornets (7-25/5-23/7-25)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley Lions 8-4 Bracknell Hornets

Scorers: Lee Valley – Michael Jacobs 1+2, Ollie Glover 0+2, Tom Hnilica 1+0, Yasin Sridhar 1+0, Nicky Brathwaite 0+1
Bracknell – Steve Fisher 2+5, Josh Ealey-Newman 4+2, Jakub Fojtik 4+2, Ben Ealey-Newman 3+2, William Stead 1+4, Daniel Clayton 3+1, Connor Hutchison 0+4, Liam Rasmussen 2+1, Jack Tarczycki 1+2, Tomas Gilheany 1+1, Luke Jackson 0+2, Matt Jordan 0+2, Harvey Hind-Pitcher 0+2, Cameron Barker 0+1, Conor Sheehan 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – Steve Grout (13:12 played, 13 shots/2 goals against); James Andrew (46:48 played, 60 shots/19 goals against)
Bracknell – Will Sanderson (20:00 played, 7 shots/2 goals against); Rory Edwards (40:00 played. 12 shots/1 goal against)

Man of the Match – Michael Jacobs (Lee Valley), Rory Edwards (Bracknell)

The Lee Valley Lions play two away games this upcoming weekend: on Saturday 10th November we visit Alexandra Palace to face Haringey, while on Sunday we travel to the Sapphire in Romford to take on the NIHL2 Raiders. Faceoff for both games will be 17:30.

Spirited Lions Downed in Cardiff

The Lions put in a spirited performance on the road in Cardiff, ultimately going down 10-2. (Photo: Laura Eaketts)

Following an improved showing at home against Haringey the previous weekend, the Lee Valley Lions were looking to continue that upturn in form on Sunday as they travelled to Cardiff to take on the Fire.

It would be no easy task however, with several players unavailable for the long Sunday night trip to south Wales; the likes of Ben Gillingham, Joe Berry, Richard Hodge, Joshua Irish, Joe Weare and Jack Ball were unable to make the trip and thus the Lions arrived in the Welsh capital rather short-benched. However the visitors did hand a debut to new signing Gus Zimmerman, who joins the club after a number of years playing university hockey for the Imperial Devils.

The Fire dressed 18 skaters as well as starting netminder James Whiting and back-up – and player-coach – Chris Douglas.

First Period – Just like against Haringey last week, the Lions came out strong defensively to begin the game and did not concede an early goal, which has been an issue in several games this season. They did take a few minor penalties in the early stages – Joe Trotter, Michael Jacobs and Simon Jones all taking trips to the penalty box in the first ten minutes – but they were able to kill all of these penalties off with James Andrew making some great saves in the Lions net.

It took the hosts just over 17 minutes to finally grab their first goal, which came through Lewis Stevens (17:08, assisted Chris Fox) with the assist coming through former Lions forward Chris Fox. And the hosts doubled their advantage when Tom Hnilica took the visitors’ fourth penalty of the game late on in the first period, Stephen Deacon (19:16, assisted Jordan Powell and Alan Armour) making it 2-0 on the powerplay. There was to be no more scoring in the period, with the Lions heading into the break only two goals down and still very much in the game.

Second Period – The Lions’ cause wasn’t helped at the start of the second period when netminder James Andrew was involved in a collision with a Cardiff forward. He was able to continue but it seemed to put him off his game in the early stages of the period, with the visitors striking three times within the first five minutes to take a 5-0 lead; firstly Samual Bryant (20:46, assisted Tamas Elias and Jackson Price) scored just 46 seconds into the period, before Elliott Murdoch (22:06, assisted Cameron Basnett and Viktor Langseth) and Jackson Price (23:48, assisted Ross Wilkinson) grabbed two more in quick succession.

The visitors were able to calm the game down after this – and despite the tired legs that were starting to creep in, the Lions stayed disciplined and did not take a single penalty in the period, making some good defensive plays while Andrew continued to make some top saves as well. Eventually Cardiff’s pressure and larger bench came to the fore however, as they scored three more goals to put the game to bed; Elias (29:05, assisted Bryant and Price), Stevens (32:04, assisted Deacon and Powell) and Morgan Evans (37:09, assisted Price and Phil Manny) doing the damage.

The Lions did have something to celebrate late in the period though as they scored their first goal of the game, Tom Hnilica (38:27, assisted Michael Jacobs and Gus Zimmerman) finishing past James Whiting after nice build-up play with Jacobs and newcomer Zimmerman. There was to be no further scoring in the period, with the Lions trailing 8-1 after two.

Third Period – The Lions came out quickly at the start of period three and got another goal back just 39 seconds in, Michael Jacobs (40:39, assisted Zummerman and Hnilica) scoring his first goal of the season – and indeed his first for the club since the 2008-09 season – after more good build-up play between the trio of Jacobs, Hnilica and Zimmerman.

Soon afterwards, Zimmerman would take a 2+10 for boarding, which put Cardiff on the powerplay and allowed them to score their ninth goal of the evening through Bryant (42:55, assisted Price and Wilkinson) to go 9-2 up. Four minutes later, they reached double figures through Joe Morris (46:10, assisted Price) and it looked like the score might ramp up in the latter stages.

But despite the short bench, the Lions fought hard right until the final whistle, defending well and creating a few chances of their own as the time ticked down. The home side were unable to score any more goals in the last 14 minutes of the game, with the visitors holding firm and keeping the score at 10-2.

There was a scary moment late in the game when Cardiff’s Ross Wilkinson needed medical attention after a mid-ice collision; however he was able to make it back out onto the ice for the post-match handshakes following the final buzzer.

The match ended 10-2 to the home side, with the Lions giving a good account of themselves and playing with an impressive team spirit. Despite having the shortest bench of any away game so far this season, the Lions kept the scoreline at a respectable level – it was the smallest number of goals they have conceded in an away game so far this campaign – and the visitors also managed to score two goals on the road for only the second time this season. There is still a lot of work for the Lions to do – but the season is yet young, and signs of improvement are there.

Netminder James Andrew took home the Man of the Match award for the Lions after making 67 saves in the game, while the trio of Jacobs-Hnilica-Zimmerman also impressed for the visitors with some great chemistry. The Lions will now look to build further on the last few performances when they host Bracknell next Sunday.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Cardiff Fire 10-2 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 2-0/6-1/2-1

Shots: Cardiff Fire 77-19 Lee Valley Lions (28-4/25-6/24-9)

Penalty Minutes: Cardiff Fire 12-20 Lee Valley Lions

Scorers: Cardiff – Jackson Price 1+4, Samual Bryant 2+1, Jordan Powell 0+3, Lewis Stevens 2+0, Stephen Deacon 1+1, Tamas Elias 1+1, Ross Wilkinson 0+2, Joe Morris 1+0, Elliott Murdoch 1+0, Morgan Evans 1+0, Alan Armour 0+1, Cameron Basnett 0+1, Phil Manny 0+1, Viktor Langseth 0+1, Chris Fox 0+1

Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 1+1, Michael Jacobs 1+1, Gus Zimmerman 0+2

Goaltenders: Cardiff – James Whiting (60:00 played, 19 shots/2 goals against)

Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 77 shots/10 goals against)

Man of the Match – James Andrew (Lee Valley)

The Lee Valley Lions are back in action this upcoming Sunday 4th November, as the Bracknell Hornets visit the Den. Faceoff will be at 17:30.

Lions Shut Out at Home by Mustangs

The Lee Valley Lions welcomed the Invicta Mustangs to the Den last weekend, with both sides hoping to take their first win of the season.

The Lions hoped to ice a larger line-up than they had managed in the three games to date, but were without Richard Hodge, Jack Ball, Joshua Irish and Joe Trotter, leaving them with 13 skaters. Steve Grout started in the Lions net.

The Mustangs also brought along 13 skaters – including former Lions defenceman Jarvis Mewett – as well as netminder Matthew Passmore.

1st Period: The Mustangs got off to a good start in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead through Tom Dennis (2:36, unassisted) in the third minute, after a tight angle shot found its way past Grout. The visitors were then able to kill off a kneeing penalty against Jarvis Mewett, and the Lions were able to do the same after receiving a bench penalty for too many men.

Invicta then added a second goal in the 13th minute, Bradley Gutridge (12:59, assisted Aaron Ferris) finishing nicely past Grout after nice build-up play with Aaron Ferris. And they extended that lead a few minutes later as Thomas Mallett (16:43, assisted Regan O’Neil) fired a hard shot into the net past Grout.

The Lions came alive a bit towards the end of the period, with Joe Berry and Michael Jacobs linking up nicely and creating a few chances, but Matthew Passmore in the Mustangs net stood tall – and the score was 3-0 to the visitors at the end of period one.

2nd Period: Just a minute into the second period, there was a break in play as young Lions defenceman James O’Brien took a puck to the mouth and needed to be helped off the ice. Coupled with fellow defenceman Joe Weare not returning to the game after period one due to injury, this put the home side down to 11 skaters for the rest of the night.

However, losing O’Brien and Weare initially seemed to fire the Lions up – they created many chances in the second period, with Berry and Jacobs again creating numerous opportunities, and Czech forward Tom Hnilica also testing Matthew Passmore on several occasions. The Mustangs goalie was on red hot form, and kept out everything that the Lions threw at him – albeit also having some luck when Berry rang one off the pipes with Passmore beaten.

It was against the run of play that the Mustangs scored their fourth of the night, Aaron Ferris (33:57, assisted Luke Thirkettle and O’Neil) finishing past Grout in amongst all the Lions pressure. There was still time in the period for the Lions to create a few more opportunities, with Ben Gillingham also being robbed by Passmore, but frustratingly for the home side no goals came in the second period, as they trailed 4-0 going into the third.

3rd Period: The energy that the Lions had found in the second period seemed to evaporate in the third; a combination of tired legs and frustration as not being able to beat the Mustangs keeper seemed to get to the home side. The Lions conceded just 47 seconds into the final period, Gutridge (40:47, assisted Ferris and Dennis) getting his second of the night and extending the visitors’ lead to 5-0.

And things wouldn’t get much better from there on, with the Mustangs adding four more goals before the night was over to give a lop-sided look to the scoreline; first Mewett (52:50, unassisted) made it 6-0 against his former side before Ferris completed his hat-trick on the night, with goals coming at 54:31 (unassisted) and 55:02 (assisted Anthony Baskerville).

The Lions were also unable to take advantage of two powerplay chances – including a 2+10 for boarding against Connor Tourish Pike – with the Mustangs defence and again goalie Passmore doing enough to keep the home side at bay. The last goal came with just 1:17 left in the game as Thirkettle (58:43) completed the scoring with an unassisted goal to make it 9-0 to the Mustangs.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions had lost their fourth game on the bounce and are still searching for their first victory of the season. Another frustrating night for the East London side, as they were not able to convert their chances at one end and lost their shape at the back towards the end of the game too. Man of the Match for the Lions was player-coach James Joseph who had a strong evening on the blueline, while Mustangs goalie Matthew Passmore took the award for the visitors.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 0-9 Invicta Mustangs

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

Shots: Lee Valley Lions 31-83 Invicta Mustangs (10-33/16-14/7-34)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley Lions 4-18 Invicta Mustangs

Scorers: Invicta – Aaron Ferris 3+2, Bradley Gutridge 2+0, Tom Dennis 1+1, Luke Thirkettle 1+1, Regan O’Neil 0+2, Thomas Mallett 1+0, Jarvis Mewett 1+0, Anthony Baskerville 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – Steve Grout (60:00 played, 83 shots/9 goals against)

Invicta – Matthew Passmore (60:00 played, 31 shots/0 goals against)

Man of the Match – James Joseph (Lee Valley), Matthew Passmore (Invicta)

The Lions’ next game is away to the Solent Devils this upcoming Saturday the 13th of October. Faceoff in Gosport will be at 5pm.