The Lee Valley Lions’ wait for a victory in the National Ice Hockey League South Division 2 this season goes on, after defeats to the Guildford Phoenix and Basingstoke Buffalo this past weekend.
The Lions welcomed Guildford to Lee Valley Ice Centre on Saturday, and the home side were able to ice a strong side with only a few absentees. And the Lions were energetic in the early stages, creating several chances and testing Guildford goaltender Jacob Stoodley. It was the visitors who got onto the scoreboard first, however, as Jacob Rondeau-Smith scored in the 16th minute.
The Lions were left unperturbed by this, striking twice within the next three minutes to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission; firstly Czech forward Tomas Hnilica scored with an assist from Joe Berry, before Hnilica turned provider for a goal by Gus Zimmerman.
The second period was a tight affair early on, with no scoring coming until the 12th minute of the period when Guildford tied things up at 2-2 through Taylor Wootton, and then went 3-2 ahead just a few minutes later as Wootton scored again. The middle period would end with the Lions trailing 3-2 and looking to bounce back in the final frame.
The Lions made a poor start to the third period however, as Wootton scored again at the 44 minute mark to seal a hat-trick and extend the Guildford lead to 4-2. The Lions were able to bounce back in the 48th minute though, Hnilica scoring his second goal of the game with assists from Berry and Dexter Crawford to cut Guildford’s advantage to 4-3.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the game was taken away from them in the final 12 minutes as Guildford scored four more times to take an 8-3 win; goals coming through Taylor Wootton (two more goals bringing him up to five on the evening), Luke Becker and Bailey Wootton.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 3-8 Guildford Phoenix
Period Scores: 2-1/0-2/1-5
Shots: Lee Valley Lions 30-50 Guildford (16-14/7-14/7-22)
Scorers: Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+1, Joe Berry 0+2, Gus Zimmerman 1+0, Dexter Crawford 0+1
Guildford – Taylor Wootton 5+0, Andrew Hemmings 0+5, Bailey Wootton 1+3, Jacob Rondeau-Smith 1+0, Luke Becker 1+0, Jared Lane 0+1, Sean Richardson 0+1, Joe Stephenson 0+1, Matthew Tull 0+1, Owen Smith 0+1
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 50 shots/8 goals against)
Guildford – Jacob Stoodley (60:00 played, 30 shots/3 goals against)
Man of the Match – Gus Zimmerman (Lee Valley), Taylor Wootton (Guildford)
The Lions then travelled to Basingstoke on Sunday to take on the Basingstoke Buffalo, missing several key players including top scorer Tomas Hnilica.
The game got off to the worst possible start for the Lions, as they conceded after just one minute, the Buffalo going 1-0 up through Cameron Buckle. And the Buffalo extended that advantage to 2-0 just under five minutes later as Samuel Brooks netted for the Hampshire side.
There were to be no more goals in the first period, meaning the Lions went into the second period trailing 0-2. This then became 3-0 in favour of the Buffalo in the 29th minute as Warren Jones scored for the home side.
The Lions did get a goal back just over a minute later however, as player-coach James Joseph scored his first goal since November 2015 to cut the deficit to 3-1. Assists on the goal came from Ben Gillingham and captain Simon Jones.
Unfortunately for the Lions, they couldn’t capitalise on this goal, conceding two more before the second period was up – Jason Newman netting twice for the Buffalo to give them a 5-1 lead heading into the final period.
The Lions were not able to get back into the game in the third period, with three more Buffalo goals increasing the scoreline to 8-1; Mark Austen, Samuel Brooks and Jason Newman doing the damage. After a fight between Lions defenceman Jake Wadge and Buffalo forward Jack Reddin, the visiting Lions did get one goal back as Gus Zimmerman netted on the powerplay; but this was no more than a consolation goal, as the Buffalo ran out 8-2 winners.
Final Score: Basingstoke Buffalo 8-2 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 2-0/3-1/3-1
Shots: Basingstoke 58-23 Lee Valley Lions (20-7/19-7/19-9)
Penalty Minutes: Basingstoke 54-40 Lee Valley Lions
Scorers: Basingstoke – Jason Newman 3+0, Samuel Brooks 2+1, Cameron Buckle 1+2, Warren Jones 1+2, Mark Austen 1+0, Matthew Byrom 0+1, Josh Richards 0+1, Marcus Russell 0+1, Gregory Martyn 0+1
Lee Valley – James Joseph 1+0, Gus Zimmerman 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1, Ben Gillingham 0+1
Goaltenders: Basingstoke – Aaron Burton (40:14 played, 14 shots/1 goal against); Ethan Frain (19:46 played, 9 shots/1 goal against)
Lee Valley – Steve Grout (44:06 played, 47 shots/7 goals against); James Andrew (15:54 played, 16 shots/1 goal against)
The weekend’s results leave the Lions 15th in the table, but they are still just one point behind 14th place side Swindon – to whom the Lions travel this upcoming Sunday 27th January for a crucial away game. Faceoff in Swindon will be at 18:15.