Lions Downed by Reigning Champions in Oxford

The Lee Valley Lions played their first away game of the calendar year 2019 on Sunday night, as they travelled to Oxford to take on the reigning league champions, the Oxford City Stars.

The Lions handed a debut to forward David Grindrod, and started with James Andrew in net with Steve Grout backing up. The Stars iced a strong line-up of 19 skaters, with Milan Ronai starting in net and John Dibble as backup.

First Period – The home side got off to a superb start, scoring three goals within the first seven minutes to take the game by the scruff of the neck early on. The early goals for the Stars came through Lee Richardson (1:30), Adam Harris (3:36) and Tom Davis (6:31). The Lions did manage to get on the board in the 14th minute and get the score back to 3-1 as Tom Hnilica (13:29, assisted Simon Jones) scored on the powerplay with Oxford’s Josh Oliver sitting 2+10 for tripping and abuse of official.

In the remaining six minutes of the first period, there was to be just one more goal scored as the home side went 4-1 up courtesy of an unassisted goal by Dominic Hopkins (17:08). This came during a passage of 4-on-4 play as Lions’ Jordan Sullivan and Stars’ Joe Edwards were both in the box. The first period ended with the Stars leading 4-1, and outshooting the Lions 18-6.

Second Period – The Lions were caught cold with just 36 seconds played in the middle period, as Darren Elliott (20:36) put the puck home to give the home side a 5-1 advantage. They would quickly extend that advantage to 8-1 by the midway point of the second period as Conor Redmond (21:16), Max Florey (22:48) and Hopkins (28:03) all netted for the Stars. Steve Grout came into the Lions net in relief of James Andrew after the seventh goal.

Shortly after the eighth goal. Lions’ Yasin Sridhar and Dexter Crawford, and Stars’ Harry Harrison and Jake Florey, were all called for fighting, with Sridhar also receiving an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Lions killed off that penalty, but the Stars scored their ninth goal shortly afterwards as Redmond doubled his tally for the evening at 30:49. There was to be just one more goal for the period, as Redmond completed his hat-trick as he netted at 36:32. The Stars ended the second period 10-1 up, having outshot the Lions 19-6.

Third Period – The Lions started the third period killing almost two minutes of 5-on-3, with both Jake Wadge and Dexter Crawford being penalised towards the end of the second period. The visitors killed this off well, and did not concede any goals in the first half of the third period either as the game petered out a little bit.

There were to be three goals in the last six minutes of the game, all coming from the Stars; Alexander Staples (54:49), Redmond (57:11) and Joe Edwards (58:18) completed the scoring for the night, with the champions Oxford beating the Lions by a final scoreline of 13-1.

Lions forward Conner Smith took home the Man of the Match award for the visitors after an energetic performance, while four goal man Conor Redmond took home the award for the home side.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Oxford City Stars 13-1 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 4-1/6-0/3-0

Shots: Oxford City Stars 60-14 Lee Valley Lions (18-6/19-6/23-2)

Penalty Minutes: Oxford City Stars 46-24 Lee Valley Lions

Scorers: Oxford – Conor Redmond 4+1, Lee Richardson 1+4, Dominic Hopkins 2+2, Tom Davis 1+1, Adam Harris 1+1, Max Florey 1+0, Alexander Staples 1+0, Joe Edwards 1+0, Darren Elliott 1+0, Jake Florey 0+1, Matthew Lawday 0+1, Michal Oravec 0+1, Dax Hedges 0+1

Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1

Goaltenders: Oxford – Milan Ronai (60:00 played, 14 shots/1 goal against)

Lee Valley – James Andrew (30:49 played, 22 shots/7 goals against); Steve Grout (29:11 played, 38 shots/6 goals against)

Man of the Match – Conner Smith (Lee Valley), Conor Redmond (Oxford)

The Lee Valley Lions are back in action at home this upcoming Saturday 19th January, as the Guildford Phoenix visit the Den. Faceoff will be at 17:30.

The Lions then travel to Basingstoke the very next day, Sunday 20th January, to take on the Basingstoke Buffalo. Faceoff will be at 18:15.

Lions Begin 2019 With Cardiff Defeat

The Lee Valley Lions played their first match of 2019 on Saturday, welcoming the Cardiff Fire to the Den.

The Lions were able to field their largest roster of the season to date, with 18 skaters taking to the ice as well as netminders James Andrew (starting) and Steve Grout (backing up). Making his debut for the Lions was Latvian defenceman Elvis Timofejevs – he was playing in the absence of Lee Valley’s top scorer, Czech forward Tom Hnilica. Cardiff brought 19 skaters of their own, along with starting goalie James Whiting and backup Lewis Davies.

First Period – The first period was cagey in the opening stages, with the Fire killing off an early too-many-men bench penalty and both Dexter Crawford (Lions) and Jackson Price (Fire) also sitting two minutes each. It took until the tenth minute for the first goal to be scored, and it came from the visitors as Samual Bryant (9:11, assisted Jackson Price and Tamas Elias) put Cardiff 1-0 up.

The Lions hit back in the 18th minute to level the scores up at 1-1, as Gus Zimmerman (17:32, assisted Ben Gillingham and Joe Berry) grabbed his third goal of the season. But the Fire didn’t take long to get back in front, scoring their second of the night to go 2-1 up just 18 seconds later through Jordan Powell (17:50, assisted Stephen Deacon). There was to be no further scoring in the first period, with the Fire leading 2-1 at the break and outshooting the Lions 16-8.

Second Period – Both sides had numerous chances in the early stages of the second period, but both James’ Andrew and Whiting in the respective nets were equal to everything that was thrown their way – and indeed it took until the 34th minute of the game for another goal to fall. After the Lions had wasted a powerplay opportunity earlier in the period, the Fire made it 3-1 as Cameron Basnett (33:36, assisted Ross Wilkinson) took advantage of a defensive breakdown and shot the puck past Andrew.

Things soon got worse for the Lions too; after failing to convert another powerplay, they again conceded a goal as Powell (36:45, assisted Josh Haslam and Deacon) made it 4-1 to the visitors in the 37th minute. And to cap off a nightmare four minutes for the hosts, they conceded a fifth goal shortly afterwards when former Lions forward Chris Fox (37:05, assisted Basnett and Elliott Murdoch) made it 5-1.

Tensions then boiled over at the end of the period, with both sides involved in some pushing and shoving following the buzzer. Joe Berry (Lions) and Ross Wilkinson (Fire) both received 2+10 for their troubles, while Jake Wadge (Lions) and Stephen Deacon (Fire) received two minutes each.

Third Period – Cardiff’s three late goals in the second period seemed to take the wind out of the Lions’ sails going into the final frame, as they were unable to get the puck past Cardiff netminder Whiting despite creating several chances. And at the other end, they conceded two goals within a timespan of 55 seconds to really put the game to bed; Phil Manny (51:04) made it 6-1 before Elias (51:59) scored a shorthanded goal with Tom Smith in the box to put the visitors into an unassailable 7-1 lead.

Despite four powerplay opportunities in the third period, the Lions were not able to score again; and the Fire capped off the scoring in the penultimate minute of the game as Iwan Davies (58:53, assisted Morgan Evans and Lewis Stevens) made it 8-1, which would be the final score as the buzzer sounded to end the game.

After a very even first 34 minutes, the Lions came away with a disappointing result after conceding three soft goals towards the end of the second period and never finding their way back into the game after that. They will nonetheless take heart from the opening stages of the game where they played good hockey and created a lot of chances.

Ben Gillingham was awarded Man of the Match for the Lions after a tireless performance which included an assist on the lone goal, while Fire netminder James Whiting took home the award for the visitors.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 1-8 Cardiff Fire

Period Scores: 1-2/0-3/0-3

Shots: Lee Valley 29-48 Cardiff (8-16/8-15/13-17)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 18-30 Cardiff

Scorers: Lee Valley – Gus Zimmerman 1+0, Ben Gillingham 0+1, Joe Berry 0+1
Cardiff – Jordan Powell 2+0, Cameron Basnett 1+1, Tamas Elias 1+1, Stephen Deacon 0+2, Phil Manny 1+0, Samual Bryant 1+0, Iwan Davies 1+0, Chris Fox 1+0, Elliott Murdoch 0+1, Lewis Stevens 0+1, Ross Wilkinson 0+1, Morgan Evans 0+1, Jackson Price 0+1, Josh Haslam 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 48 shots/8 goals against)
Cardiff – James Whiting (60:00 played, 29 shots/1 goal against)

Man of the Match – Ben Gillingham (Lee Valley), James Whiting (Cardiff)

The Lee Valley Lions are next in action on Sunday 13th January in an away game, as they travel to Oxford to take on reigning league champions the Oxford City Stars. Faceoff will be at 18:15.



Solent and Chelmsford Match Reports

The Lions wrapped up the calendar year 2018 last weekend with two tough home games, welcoming reigning playoff champions Solent to the Den on Saturday before current league leaders Chelmsford visited on Sunday.

Saturday vs Solent

The Lions were able to ice 15 skaters for the visit of the Devils, with Steve Grout starting in goal and James Andrew backing up. New signing Alex Clarke made his debut in a Lions jersey. Solent also brought 15 skaters as well as netminder Christian Cole.

First Period – For the very first time this season, the Lions took the lead in a game; Oliver Glover (2:03, assisted Conner Smith and Tom Hnilica) scoring his first goal of the season in the third minute to stun the Devils. And it took the Devils a long time to get over that shock and get back into the match, as they did not level the score until the 12th minute as Alex Murray grabbed an equaliser.

As the period wore on, the Devils started to exert their dominance, and they were able to score three more times before the period was over as Elliot Lewis, Ben Lock and Murray made it 4-1 going into the first break. This was despite numerous chances for the Lions as Richard Hodge, Jake Wadge and newcomer Alex Clarke all coming close to scoring. The Lions indeed out-shot the Devils 17-16 in the first frame.

Second Period – The Devils once again proved to be the more clinical side in the second period, racing into an 8-1 lead by the midway point; doing the damage were Alexander Trendall, Elliot Lewis, Rhys McCormick and Christopher Hocquigny who each grabbed a goal. The Lions did have chances of their own, Tom Hnilica and Dexter Crawford coming close to getting on the scoresheet, before the home side finally got the score back to 8-2 in the 33rd minute through Conner Smith (32:56, assisted Joe Berry and Ben Gillingham). It was Smith’s third goal in a Lions jersey in just his second game for the club. The period would end with the Devils leading 8-2, despite the Lions again out-shooting them in the period 11-10.

Third Period – The Lions began to tire in the final period, and the reigning playoff champions made them pay for that, as they scored six more goals to increase the score to 14-2 by the 57th minute. Goalscorers for the Devils in the third period were Murray (x2), McCormick, Alexander Cole, James Hounsome and Richard Facey. There was still time for the Lions to get a consolation goal back in the very last minute of the game, Richard Hodge (59:03, unassisted) beating Christian Cole to wrap up the scoring on the night. The Devils out-shot the Lions in the third period 19-15.

As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions were left to reflect on their best start of the season, as they held the lead from the third until the 12th minute, after which point the Devils took over and dominated the game as one would expect from a team of their quality. Man of the Match for the Lions was defenceman Jake Wadge, who sacrificed his body all night with a number of blocked shots, while player-coach Alex Murray took home the award for the visitors.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 3-14 Solent Devils

Period Scores: 1-4/1-4/1-6

Shots: Lee Valley Lions 43-45 Solent Devils (17-16/11-10/15-19)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley Lions 0-0 Solent Devils

Scorers: Lee Valley – Conner Smith 1+1, Oliver Glover 1+0, Richard Hodge 1+0, Ben Gillingham 0+1, Joe Berry 0+1, Tom Hnilica 0+1
Solent – Alex Murray 4+3, Daniel Lackey 0+5, Elliot Lewis 2+2, Alexander Trendall 1+3, Alexander Cole 1+2, Rhys McCormick 2+0, Richard Facey 1+1, James Hounsome 1+1, Christopher Hocquigny 1+1, Daniel Shier 0+2, Callum Farrell 0+2, Ben Lock 1+0, Mason Wild 0+1, Calumn Perella-Fox 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – Steve Grout (46:18 played, 37 shots/11 goals against), James Andrew (13:42 played, 12 shots/3 goals against)
Solent – Christian Cole (60:00 played, 43 shots/3 goals against)

Man of the Match – Jake Wadge (Lee Valley), Alex Murray (Solent)

Sunday vs Chelmsford

Three players who had iced for the Lions the previous evening – James O’Brien, Joshua Irish and Nicky Brathwaite – were unavailable for this game, while Joe Miller returned to the lineup, giving the Lions 13 skaters plus starting netminder James Andrew and backup Steve Grout. The Chieftains brought 17 skaters plus former Lions netminder James Tipple.

First Period – The Lions showed that the previous evening was no fluke, as they took the lead for the second night in a row, this time through Tom Hnilica (3:26, assisted Conner Smith). The Chieftains hit back a few minutes later through Grant Bartlett, but the Lions once again took the lead in the ninth minute as Dexter Crawford (8:18, unassisted) scored his first goal as a Lion, and it came on the powerplay.

Unfortunately for the Lions, the Chieftains hit back once again in the 11th minute with a powerplay goal of their own through new Swedish import signing David Millner. And even more disappointingly for the Lions, they conceded their third goal of the period with just nine seconds to go until the first intermission as Elliot Dervish fired the puck past James Andrew after an unlucky bounce.

This came a few minutes after the Lions thought they had taken a 3-2 lead, with the goal being waved off due to the puck hitting Chelmsford netminder Tipple in the helmet in the build-up to the goal. The first frame therefore ended with the Chieftains leading 3-2, having out-shot the home side heavily 24-9 but finding Lions netminder Andrew in great form.

Second Period – There were no goals from either side in the first seven minutes of the second period, with Lions forward Joe Berry coming closest to breaking the deadlock. The Chieftains then struck three times between the 28th and 35th minutes to take a 6-2 lead, Bartlett (x2) and Ross Cowan scoring the goals. Andrew once again made some top drawer saves in the Lions net to prevent further goals from being scored – and the Lions got one back in the 38th minute, Gus Zimmerman (37:45, assisted Joe Berry) scoring a short-handed marker after a great assist from Joe Berry. The second period ended with the Chieftains leading 6-3, and out-shooting the hosts 20-8 in the period.

Third Period – The period started with Lions netminder James Andrew being involved in a collision, but after a few minutes of recovery time he was able to continue in the game. However he conceded two goals not long afterwards that allowed the Chieftains to go 8-3 up, Courtney Grant and Millner getting them. After this, the Lions swapped netminders with Steve Grout taking over for the remaining 13 minutes of the game.

A further Chieftains goal through James Ayling made it 9-3 to the visitors; however the Lions did not give up despite the scoreline, and got two goals back between the 50th and 52nd minutes. Firstly Richard Hodge (49:48, assisted Jake Wadge and Joe Miller) grabbed his second of the goal of the weekend to reduce the deficit to 8-5, before Hnilica (52:00, assisted Berry and Crawford) scored his second of the night to make it 9-5 in favour of the visitors. The Chieftains scored one final goal with just under three minutes left through Ayling to take a hard-fought 10-5 win in the end.

Despite the defeat, it was definitely the best performance of the season for the Lions, as they matched the league leaders for large portions of the game and scored five goals – the first time this season that the Lions have scored that many goals in a single game. The losing margin of five goals was also the smallest margin of defeat this season. Man of the Match for the Lions was Joe Miller after an energetic performance from the young forward, while James Ayling took home the same award for the Chieftains.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 5-10 Chelmsford Chieftains

Period Scores: 2-3/1-3/2-4

Shots: Lee Valley Lions 29-63 Chelmsford Chieftains (9-24/8-20/12-19)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley Lions 38-20 Chelmsford Chieftains

Scorers: Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+0, Dexter Crawford 1+1, Joe Berry 0+2, Gus Zimmerman 1+0, Richard Hodge 1+0, Joe Miller 0+1, Jake Wadge 0+1, Conner Smith 0+1
Chieftains – James Ayling 2+3, Grant Bartlett 3+1, David Millner 2+2, Gary Brown 0+2, Elliot Dervish 1+0, Courtney Grant 1+0, Ross Cowan 1+0, TJ Fillery 0+1, Ross Brears 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (47:36 played, 54 shots/8 goals against), Steve Grout (12:24 played, 9 shots/2 goals against)
Chelmsford – James Tipple (60:00 played, 29 shots/5 goals against)

Man of the Match – Joe Miller (Lee Valley), James Ayling (Chelmsford)

Smith Stars on Debut as Lions Lose to Pitbulls

The Lee Valley Lions took on the Bristol Pitbulls on Saturday, with the home side still looking for their first points of the season.

The Lions once again had a multitude of players missing, leaving the home side with just 11 skaters as well as netminders James Andrew and Steve Grout. The hosts did hand a debut to 17-year-old Conner Smith, the former Streatham junior making his first appearance in senior hockey. Bristol brought 17 skaters as well as starting netminder Andrew Leckie and backup Ross Miller.

First Period – The opening period was not a good one for the Lions, as they started off slowly and gifted the Pitbulls a few early goals. Olly Shone (3:02, assisted Richard Hargreaves and Adrian Smith) opened the scoring just over three minutes in, and Giacomo Raffaelli (4:30, unassisted) doubled the visitors’ advantage just a minute and a half later. And it was to be 3-0 in favour of the Pitbulls in the ninth minute too, as Steve Osman (8:23, assisted A. Smith and Sam Shone) buried the puck past James Andrew in the Lions net – this despite the Lions creating two great chances just moments earlier, both coming through Joe Berry.

There were to be two further Pitbulls goals in the period too, as the scoreline started to get away from the home side; Grant Richardson (12:28, assisted David Manning and R. Hargreaves) made it 4-0 on the powerplay with Lions defenceman Jake Wadge in the box for hooking, before A. Smith (18:47, assisted O. Shone) completed the scoring for the period, making it 5-0 going into the first break. The Lions managed 13 shots in the first period, but scored on none of them whereas the Pitbulls converted five of the 23 that they attempted.

Second Period – Whatever Lions player-coach James Joseph said in the first intermission, it obviously worked – the Lions came out far better in the second period, looking more organised at the back and also more confident up front. They scored just 34 seconds into the period, Conner Smith (20:34, assisted James O’Brien and Tom Hnilica) scoring his first goal in senior hockey in his first senior game, after a lovely stretch pass by O’Brien set him off on a breakaway.

And things got even better for the hosts in the 29th minute, with Czech forward Tom Hnilica (28:12, assisted Gus Zimmerman) being fed a lovely pass by Gus Zimmerman and duly burying it past Leckie in the Pitbulls net. It was Hnilica’s seventh goal of the season, with Zimmerman picking up his fourth assist in just his fourth game in a Lions jersey. The Lions also thought they had a third goal, Smith putting the puck home but being adjudged to have been standing in the crease at the time, and thus the goal was washed out.

Sadly for the Lions, the Pitbulls got one back in the 33rd minute through Josh Galea (32:20, assisted Jamie Newton and Osman), who scored on the powerplay with Jake Wadge again in the box, this time for tripping. This didn’t put the Lions off though, and they created multiple chances towards the end of the period – with Hnilica, Joseph and Zimmerman all going close – but there was to be no more scoring in the period, as the Pitbulls led 6-2 going into the second break, having outshot the Lions 21-14 but losing the period by a score of 2-1.

Third Period – In the final period, the short bench of the Lions started to show as they made a few tired plays and let the Pitbulls extend their advantage; first Osman (42:55, assisted Newton and Galea) and then O. Shone (44:09, assisted A. Smith) scored to make the score 8-2 with over 15 minutes still to play. The Lions did come close to scoring a few times shortly after, with both Berry and Michael Jacobs testing Leckie in the Bristol net.

Things got even tougher for a tiring Lions team as Joe Trotter took a 2+10 for boarding with ten minutes left, effectively ending his evening; while Bristol did not score on that powerplay, they scored on another one soon after as Osman (53:06, assisted Jack Hayes) completed his hat-trick and made it 9-2 with Conner Smith in the box, before O. Shone (55:16, assisted Manning) completed his own hat-trick and made it 10-2 in the 56th minute.

The home side did give their fans something to cheer about late on, C. Smith (57:02) scoring his second of the night on the breakaway, before a crazy ending that saw three goals scored within the last two minutes of the game; Bristol made it 11-3 through Newton (58:12, assisted O. Shone and Michael Hargreaves), the Lions got it back to 11-4 as Zimmerman (59:11, assisted Hnilica and C. Smith) scored his first goal as a Lion, and finally Richardson (59:27, assisted Osman and A. Smith) scored Bristol’s 12th and rounded out the score for the evening.

After a crazy game in which they conceded five unanswered goals in the first period, won the second period 2-1, then tired in the third to lose the period 6-2 and the game 12-4, the Lions will look back at this one with mixed emotions. If they can play like they did in the second period over a full 60 minutes, they have a real chance of taking that elusive first win of the season really soon.

Connor Smith was awarded Man of the Match for a brilliant debut, in which he scored two goals and assisted a further one while looking threatening all night, while Olly Shone took home the award for the visitors.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 4-12 Bristol Pitbulls

Period Scores: 0-5/2-1/2-6

Shots: Lee Valley 43-81 Bristol (13-23/14-21/16-37)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 22-6 Bristol

Scorers: Lee Valley – Conner Smith 2+1, Tom Hnilica 1+2, Gus Zimmerman 1+1, James O’Brien 0+1
Bristol – Steve Osman 3+2, Olly Shone 3+2, Adrian Smith 1+4, Jamie Newton 1+2, Grant Richardson 2+0, Josh Galea 1+1, David Manning 0+2, Richard Hargreaves 0+2, Giacomo Raffaelli 1+0, Sam Shone 0+1, Michael Hargreaves 0+1, Jack Hayes 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 81 shots/12 goals against)
Bristol – Andrew Leckie (60:00 played, 43 shots/4 goals against)

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

The Lee Valley Lions are next in action at home on Saturday 15th December against the Solent Devils, and again the following day against the Chelmsford Chieftains. Faceoff at Lee Valley Ice Centre for both games will be at 17:30.

Lions Show Improvement in Oxford Defeat

The Lee Valley Lions welcomed reigning league champions, the Oxford City Stars, to the Den on Sunday evening. Oxford were lying second in the league while the Lions were still searching for their first win of the season, so it was sure to be a tough task for the home side.

It was not made any easier by the fact that a number of Lions players were unavailable for the fixture, leaving the home side with just 11 skaters as well as netminders James Andrew and Steve Grout, the latter returning after a few weeks out injured. Oxford brought 17 skaters as well as starting netminder Mark Duffy and backup John Dibble.

First Period – Oxford started the game extremely well, scoring five goals within the first eleven minutes of the game as they showed what a skilled team they are. Matthew LawdayMichal OravecTom DavisDarren Elliott and Josh Oliver all got on the scoresheet for the visitors within the first 10:55 of the game, and it looked like the scoreline could get very high indeed. This is not to say that the Lions didn’t have chances – Joe Berry in particular was lively and created a few scoring opportunities for the home side, as did Richard Hodge and Gus Zimmerman, but the puck didn’t want to go into the net for Lee Valley in the early stages.

Credit to the Lions who knuckled down after conceding those five goals, tightening up at the back and not conceding again in the remainder of the first period. Zimmerman in particular was impressive on the blueline – he had played as a forward in his previous two games in a Lions jersey, so showed his versatility in this game by helping out at the back with a number of defencemen not able to play. The Lions also finished the period off well, as they scored their first goal of the game through Berry (18:33, assisted Richard Hodge) to make the score 5-1 in favour of Oxford going into the first intermission.

Second Period – The Lions’ hopes were further dashed at the start of the second period when Oliver Glover was unable to continue in the game, so the home side were down to ten skaters for the remainder of the contest. However, the Lions were again solid at the start of the middle period, holding off Oxford’s forwards and creating some chances of their own with Michael Jacobs, Czech forward Tom Hnilica and the aforementioned Gus Zimmerman – now playing as a forward – all coming close to further reducing the deficit.

Oxford did manage to score another goal in the 28th minute of the game to make it 6-1, with Jake Florey (27:26, assisted Josh Oliver) grabbing the goal, but the Lions will have been happy with the 17 minute gap between Oxford’s fifth and sixth goals. The home side would have been even happier just a minute and a half later as Hnilica (28:52, assisted James Joseph and Berry) raced through on a breakaway and finished past Duffy with a slick backhander to reduce the deficit to 6-2.

As the period went on, the ten men of the home side did start to tire; and the champions took full advantage as they scored three more goals through Lee Richardson and two from Joe Edwards; this meant that the score was 9-2 in favour of the visitors heading into the second break.

Third Period – The Lions’ aim for the third period would have been to stick to their systems and not give up a deluge of final period goals as they had done in the recent games against Haringey and Bracknell; this aim looked in danger just four minutes into the period as Oxford scored twice to make the score 11-2, Lawday (42:25, assisted Edwards and Dominic Hopkins) and then Oravec (43:30, assisted Elliott and Josh Oliver) doing the damage.

The Lions switched netminders at this point with Steve Grout replacing James Andrew, and this seemed to give the Lions the lift they needed to see out the rest of the game without conceding too many more goals. Although the visitors did make it 12-2 through a hat-trick goal from Lawday (46:07, assisted Hopkins and Davis), the home side then went the next twelve minutes without conceding again, as they kept their heads up and continued to work hard despite tired legs all around.

The home side scored their third goal of the game too as Berry (53:50, assisted Joseph and Jake Wadge) bagged his second goal of the game and got the score back to 12-3. And while Oxford finished off the scoring with just a few minutes left as Harry Harrison (58:52, assisted Elliott) scored a short-handed goal – following a 5+game penalty against Oxford forward Michal Oravec for high-sticking –  the Lions would have been somewhat content with the 13-3 final score considering it was against probably the toughest opponent they had faced this season to date.

After only scoring one goal in two games the previous weekend, the Lions managed to score three goals in this game against the champions; while the defence looked more solid and composed in this game compared to the last few, despite being low on numbers. Man of the Match for the Lions was the versatile Gus Zimmerman who impressed both as a defenceman and as a forward, while Joe Edwards took home the same award for the visitors.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 3-13 Oxford City Stars

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

Shots: Lee Valley 22-69 Oxford (8-21/5-29/7-19)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 4-31 Oxford

Scorers: Lee Valley – Joe Berry 2+1, James Joseph 0+2, Tom Hnilica 1+0, Jake Wadge 0+1, Richard Hodge 0+1
Oxford – Matthew Lawday 3+2, Joe Edwards 2+2, Michal Oravec 2+2, Josh Oliver 1+3, Darren Elliott 1+3, Jake Florey 1+1, Tom Davis 1+1, Lee Richardson 1+1, Harry Harrison 1+1, Dominic Hopkins 0+2, Josh Florey 0+1, Macaulay Coppock 0+1, Conor Redmond 0+1, Alexander Staples 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (43:30 played, 53 shots/11 goals against); Steve Grout (16:30 played, 16 shots/2 goals against)
Oxford – Mark Duffy (60:00 played, 22 shots/3 goals against)

Man of the Match – Gus Zimmerman (Lee Valley), Joe Edwards (Oxford)

The Lee Valley Lions are next in action at home on Saturday 1st December against the Bristol Pitbulls. Faceoff at Lee Valley Ice Centre will be at 17:30.

The Lions gave a good account of themselves in defeat against the reigning champions (Photo: Tori Rigby)