It was another difficult weekend for the Lee Valley Lions last time out as they slipped to two more defeats; firstly on the road to league leaders Haringey, and then at home 24 hours later against Bracknell.
Saturday 29/02/2020 – Haringey Huskies 11-1 Lee Valley Lions
The Lions were missing forwards Robert Cole, Joe Berry, Lewis Blore and Charlie Nichols for Saturday’s trip to Alexandra Palace, as well as defencemen Richie Pickering, Daniel Tamasauskas, Tom Baptist and Oscar Kally. Starting in net for the Lions was James Andrew, while Harry Sage – usually a forward – would play on defence for this game.
First Period: The high-flying Huskies started the game off well, with import defenceman Gheorghe Dragomir scoring the opening goal of the game just two and a half minutes in. But both the Lions defence, and netminder James Andrew, stood firm for the next 14 minutes to keep the deficit at 1-0.
The Huskies did manage to score two more goals before the opening period ended though; firstly former Lions captain James Hepburn, and then Dragomir with his second of the game, put the Huskies 3-0 up after the first period, having outshot the Lions 15-5.
Second Period: It was the visiting Lions who scored first in the middle period as Harry O’Brien (23:43, assisted Vinny Ferrara and Simon Jones) slot the puck past Huskies netminder Ruth Cattell – another former Lions player – after good build-up play from Ferrara and Jones. It was a first goal in Lions colours for the younger of the O’Brien brothers.
The Huskies fired back, however, scoring three goals to lead 6-1 at the midway point of the game; those goals came through James Pentecost and two from captain Stephen Woodford (one of those on the powerplay).
The Lions swapped netminders at this point, with Naomi Healey replacing Andrew between the pipes, but she couldn’t stop the Huskies putting up two more goals to go into the second break 8-1 up; this time the goals came through Luke Martin-Digby and yet another former Lions player Gus Zimmerman.
Third Period: The Lions’ tiredness and low numbers on defence were showing by the third period, and they were unable to muster much in the way of dangerous offence, while the Huskies scored twice more through former Lions captain Nick Alley, and Dragomir who completed a hat-trick, to lead 10-1.
The last ten minutes of the game were rather quiet scoring-wise, but there was a fight between Haringey’s Martin-Digby and the Lions’ Sage in the closing stages.
Martin-Digby received 2+2+2 for the fight, while Sage received 2+2; but instead of taking advantage of the resulting powerplay, the Lions instead gave the puck away to Woodford, who scored a shorthanded goal to complete his own hat-trick and give the Huskies an 11-1 win.
Man of the Match for the Lions was Harry O’Brien, as the 18-year-old was rewarded for scoring his first goal for the club.
Sunday 01/03/2020 – Lee Valley Lions 4-8 Bracknell Wasps
The Lions hoped for a better result 24 hours later at Lee Valley Ice Centre, as they welcomed a Bracknell side against whom they had suffered two tight away losses this season, as well as one heavy home loss.
The home side were able to ice a full roster of 20 skaters, with only Oscar Kally, Joe Berry and Robert Cole missing out. James Andrew once again started in goal.
First Period: The opening period was a tight one, with both sides pushing for goals but netminders James Andrew (Lions) and Rory Edwards (Bracknell) making some strong saves to keep the scoreline goalless.
The Lions successfully killed minor penalties against Tyrone Wells and Harry Sage, while the Wasps also killed a penalty of their own – meaning both sides went into the first intermission locked in a 0-0 deadlock. The hosts narrowly edged the shots 10-9 in the period.
Second Period: The middle period got off to a bad start for the hosts, as first Wasps player-coach Danny Hughes and then Ben Edwards scored to give the visitors a 2-0 lead in the 27th minute.
The Lions were not perturbed by this though, and got back into the game through a lovely finish at the back post by Joseph Gibson (28:55, assisted Rowan Champney) following a slick pass from Rowan Champney. It was former Streatham defenceman Gibson’s first goal for the East London club.
The scoreline was then 2-2 in the 33rd minute as Ross Sin-Hidge (32:12, assisted Jordan Ho and Daniel Tamasauskas) scored on the powerplay. It was Sin-Hidge’s first goal since November, having only returned to action the previous night against Haringey after missing nine games through injury.
Things all went a bit wrong for the Lions in the next three minutes though, as they shipped three goals through Ben Edwards (x2) and James Eldridge to give the Wasps a 5-2 lead.
There was time for one more Lions goal before the break though, and it was Jordan Ho (37:39, assisted Sin-Hidge) who scored his 17th goal of the season to bring the deficit back to 5-3 heading into the final period.
Third Period: And the last period would start out very well for the Lions as Sin-Hidge (41:04) scored an unassisted goal just 1:04 after the break, his second marker of the game bringing the deficit back to 4-5 and giving the Lions hope that they could come back.
Sadly for the home side – those hopes started to fade away as first Scott Anda and then Ciaran Norris scored for the Wasps, giving them a 7-4 lead with just over ten minutes to play in the game.
And try as they might, the Lions just couldn’t solve the riddle of Rory Edwards in the Wasps net, eventually giving up an eighth and final goal just two and a half minutes from time as Hughes made it 8-4 to the Wasps – condemning the Lions to defeat in their last home game of the season.
Joseph Gibson took home the Man of the Match award for the Lions after scoring his first goal for the club as well as putting in a solid defensive effort.
The Lions are next in action on the road on Saturday 7th March 2020, as they visit Oxford Ice Rink to take on the Bristol Pitbulls in their final Cup game of the season. Faceoff in Oxford will be 17:15.