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.

Improved Lions Suffer Derby Defeat

The Lee Valley Lions were looking for their first win of the season on Saturday as they welcomed London rivals, the Haringey Huskies, to the Den.

The Lions were able to ice their largest roster of the season to date, with only Ben Gillingham, Jack Ball and Nicky Brathwaite not icing. The Huskies brought 18 skaters – including former Lions Ashlee Cave, Ryan Payne, Stuart Appleby, Mark Robinson, Ben Osborne, Daniel Tamasauskas and Ross Sin-Hidge – and netminder Harry Buckingham.

1st Period: In a marked change to many of the other games so far this season, the Lions defence looked composed in the opening stages of this game, and they weren’t caught cold with an early goal. The Huskies did create some early chances, but the Lions backline was able to prevent them from getting too many shots on net – and when they did, Lions netminder James Andrew was up to the task. Andrew also made a super save to deny former Lions forward Ross Sin-Hidge on the breakaway as Haringey started to take control of the game.

It took until the 12th minute for Haringey to get their first goal of the game, and it was another former Lion who got it as Mark Robinson (11:40, assisted Sebastian Downing) fired the puck past Andrew on the powerplay, with Lions captain Simon Jones sitting two minutes for interference. This goal then gave the Huskies the confidence to create even more chances, and they started peppering Andrew with more and more shots. One of those did manage to get through Andrew’s defences – Bryn Griffiths (13:27, assisted Brandon Martin-Digby) doubling the Huskies’ advantage – but the Huskies were not able to get any more goals and the period ended with the visitors holding a narrow 2-0 lead.

2nd Period: Unlike in the first period, the Lions were caught cold at the start of the second and conceded two goals within the first three minutes; first Stuart Appleby (21:45, assisted Joseph Willingham and Gheorghe Dragomir) sniped a wrister past James Andrew before import forward Dragomir (22:26, assisted Samuel Jackson) got another goal just 41 seconds later. These goals seemed to wake the Lions up, as they created a few chances but Haringey’s young netminder Buckingham was equal to the task on each one.

The Huskies then went 5-0 in front just before the midway point of the game, Joseph Willingham (28:01. assisted Dragomir) seemingly putting the game beyond the Lions as he finished past Andrew. But the home side didn’t lie down and instead put the pressure on the Huskies – this paid off when James Buckingham went to the box for delay of game and the Lions scored on the resulting powerplay, Joshua Irish (29:19, assisted Richard Hodge) scoring his first Lions goal since the 2012-13 season as he finished past Buckingham to breathe new life into the Lions.

Sadly for the hosts, a hooking call against Richard Hodge led to a Huskies powerplay, on which the visitors converted to go 6-1 up – Dragomir (32:23, assisted James Buckingham) getting his second of the night. The remainder of the period was tight, with the Lions creating a few chances through the likes of Joe Berry and Tom Hnilica, but Harry Buckingham stopping all the shots that came his way. The second period finished with the visitors 6-1 up.

3rd Period: The hosts were caught napping again at the start of the third period, Sebastian Downing (40:30, assisted Mark Robinson) scoring to make it 7-1 just 30 seconds in. Shortly afterwards, Haringey’s Robinson would receive a 2+10 for boarding as well as another 10 minute misconduct causing him to be tossed from the game, with Lions defenceman James O’Brien receiving two for clipping in the same melee.

The Lions then had a few good opportunities to score some goals and get back in the game, with the likes of Michael Jacobs and Tom Hnilica testing a resolute Harry Buckingham in the Huskies net – however the young goalie was not to be beaten another time on the evening. The Huskies then scored again to go 8-1 in front with just over 12 minutes to play, Ross Sin-Hidge (47:22, assisted Downing) grabbing a goal against his former club.

At this point, the Lions swapped netminders with Steve Grout coming in for James Andrew. In the remainder of the game – unlike in some previous matches this season – the Lions did not tire out and concede a barrage of late goals, instead keeping their feet moving and preventing the Huskies from getting many chances. The home side created a few more of their own too, which they were unable to convert. Both sides took numerous penalties in the later stages of the game, but there were to be no further goals scored.

The final buzzer sounded with the Lions falling 8-1 to their London rivals – but some signs of improvement were definitely there for the home side. They broke their streak of two games without a goal thanks to Joshua Irish’s tally in the second period, while they also gave up the smallest amount of goals against in a game this season too, conceding eight. This will give the Lions confidence with a lot of hockey still to be played this season.

Man of the Match for the Lions was blueliner James O’Brien, who put in a composed and confident performance just two weeks after taking a puck to the mouth in the game against Invicta; while import forward Gheorghe Dragomir took home the award for the visitors thanks to four points on the night.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 1-8 Haringey Huskies

Period Scores: 0-2/1-4/0-2

Shots: Lee Valley Lions 32-77 Haringey Huskies (8-30/13-17/11-30)

Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley Lions 18-44 Haringey Huskies

Scorers: Lee Valley – Joshua Irish 1+0, Richard Hodge 0+1

Haringey – Gheorghe Dragomir 2+2, Mark Robinson 1+1, Sebastian Downing 1+1, Joseph Willingham 1+1, Bryn Griffiths 1+0, Stuart Appleby 1+0, Ross Sin-Hidge 1+0, Samuel Jackson 0+1, Brandon Martin-Digby 0+1, Ricky Rutherford 0+1, James Buckingham 0+1

Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (48:48 played, 72 shots/8 goals against); Steve Grout (11:12 played, 5 shots/0 goals against)

Haringey – Harry Buckingham (60:00 played, 32 shots/1 goal against)

Man of the Match – James O’Brien (Lee Valley), Gheorghe Dragomir (Haringey)

This Saturday’s Chelmsford Home Game is Postponed

The Lee Valley Lions can confirm that our planned home game against the Chelmsford Chieftains – originally scheduled for Saturday 27th October – has been postponed.

A new date for this fixture will be announced as soon as possible. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for more.

Our next fixture will be away at Cardiff this upcoming Sunday 28th October, with our next home game coming on Sunday 4th November against Bracknell.

Lions Blanked by Devils on South Coast

The Lee Valley Lions made a tough trip to the south coast on Saturday, as they travelled to Gosport to take on last season’s playoff champions, the Solent Devils.

The visitors were once again short-benched for this game, as they were missing forwards Tom Hnilica and Joe Berry as well as defencemen Joe Weare, Joe Trotter and Jack Ball. James Andrew started in goal with Steve Grout backing up.

The Devils fielded a full line-up of 20 skaters with Christian Cole starting in net.

First Period – The Lions made the worst possible start as they went 1-0 down after just 13 seconds, Evan Crockford (0:13, assisted Alex Murray and Richard Facey) putting the puck past Andrew on the Devils’ first chance of the game. And it would get worse from there, Crockford (4:44, assisted Facey and Murray) doubling the advantage in the fifth minute and Alexander Trendall (5:09, assisted Drew Campbell and Jamie Fitzpatrick) following up with a third goal just 25 seconds later.

The Devils then added two more goals before the ten minute mark to effectively kill the game as a contest, Daniel Shier (8:37, assisted Alexander Cole and Campbell) making it 4-0 on the powerplay with Lions blueliner Yasin Sridhar in the box for cross-checking and then Campbell (9:56, assisted Ben Lock and Daniel Lackey) making it 5-0 on a delayed penalty.

Try as they might, the Lions could not stop the Devils juggernaut and conceded two more goals before the first period was over; first Rhys McCormick (12:19, assisted Christopher Hocquigny and Shier) made it 6-0 before Shier (14:21, assisted Hocquigny and McCormick) grabbed another powerplay marker with Nicky Brathwaite sitting two for high-sticking. There was to be no further scoring in the period, with the Devils taking a 7-0 lead into the first intermission and outshooting the Lions 38-2 after a totally dominant period.

Second Period – The home side dialled things back a bit in the second period, rotating their bench and giving more ice time to their younger players. The Lions did not have that luxury however, and it looked like being another tough period for them when the Devils struck twice within 51 seconds to make it 9-0; first Fitzpatrick (26:11, assisted Mason Wild and Trendall) scored on the powerplay with Lions forward Ben Gillingham in the box, before Crockford (27:02, assisted Facey and Thomas Bazell) grabbed the ninth goal of the evening and completed his hat-trick.

The Lions swapped netminders at the midway point of the game, with Grout coming in for Andrew. The Devils reached double figures not too long afterwards, Trendall (31:57, assisted Campbell and A. Cole) notching his second of the night and putting the hosts 10-0 in front. And there was time for one more goal before the middle period was done, McCormick (37:39, assisted Hocquigny and Shier) also getting his second of the night and raising the scoreline to 11-0. It would remain that way until the end of the period, with Solent again outshooting the visitors 28-3.

Third Period – The Devils again used the third period to give ice time to their full bench, while the Lions came out stronger, desperate to score at least one goal. However, the Lee Valley players were running on empty at this point; consequently, the last period did not have as many goals or as much action as the first two frames. There were in fact just two goals in the final period, both for the hosts; Trendall (50:10, assisted Campbell and Callum Farrell) made it 12-0 with just under ten minutes remaining in the game before A. Cole (54:24, assisted Crockford and Murray) wrapped things up with the unlucky 13th goal from a Lions perspective. The final buzzer sounded with the Lions going down heavily on the road against the reigning champions, being outshot in the final period 20-4.

It was yet another tough road trip for a group of Lions players who are still finding chemistry and developing as a team, facing a side with good chemistry and a deep roster full of quality. Man of the Match for the visitors was Ben Gillingham for a hard-working performance, while hat-trick scorer Evan Crockford took home the award for the Devils.

The Lions will now hope that they can get something out of their next game, with London rivals Haringey visiting the Den on Saturday.

GAME STATS

Final Score: Solent Devils 13-0 Lee Valley Lions

Period Scores: 7-0/4-0/2-0

Shots: Solent Devils 86-9 Lee Valley Lions (38-2/28-3/20-4)

Penalty Minutes: Solent Devils 10-28 Lee Valley Lions

Scorers: Solent – Drew Campbell 1+4, Evan Crockford 3+1, Alexander Trendall 3+1, Daniel Shier 2+2, Rhys McCormick 2+1, Alexander Cole 1+2, Alex Murray 0+3, Richard Facey 0+3, Christopher Hocquigny 0+3, Jamie Fitzpatrick 1+1, Daniel Lackey 0+1, Mason Wild 0+1, Thomas Bazell 0+1, Callum Farrell 0+1, Ben Lock 0+1

Goaltenders: Solent – Christian Cole (60:00 played, 9 shots/0 goals against)

Lee Valley – James Andrew (31:44 played, 56 shots/9 goals against), Steve Grout (28:16 played, 30 shots/4 goals against)

Man of the Match – Ben Gillingham (Lee Valley), Evan Crockford (Solent)

The Lions’ next game is at home to the Haringey Huskies this upcoming Saturday the 20th of October. Faceoff at the Den will be at 5:30pm.

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.