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.
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)