Hockey returned to East London for the start of the 2013/14 season and the Lions, bolstered by new recruits were feeling positive about this season’s chances. Slough (boasting former Haringey, London Racers and Slough EPL Jets sniper Zoran Kozic) who have been steady since dropping down from Division 1, had put 28 goals on the Lions over two games last year.
There was a sombre mood in the Den as former Lion, Jordan Jones (who passed away in July) was remembered in a presentation to his family.
First Period: The game started slowly as neither team created any clear cut chances with Slough taking the early possession but as the period wore on, Slough started to stretch the Lions’ defence as the hosts showed early season rust. The returning Nick Alley failed to control the puck in front of net and Richard Hodge sent a shot just over the cross bar towards the end. The period ended scoreless.
Second Period: The Lions started the period short handed but killed the Slough Powerplay (PP). Once back to full strength, the combinations started to come together with Theo Abban linking well with new line-mate Gennadi Yufit. The Lions made the first breakthrough at 36:30, when Ashlee Cave worked hard in the corner to allow Ben Osbourne to set him up in front of net, Cave scoring on his back after a short scramble. This spurred Lee Valley on and as Slough started to show fatigue, the Lions started to open up the Jets’ defence with some quick passes, Laura Saunders in the Slough goal being forced into some big saves. Despite the pressure, it was the visitors who scored next. As the Lions were on the PP, a communication break down left the home side exposed at the back as Slough captain David Print returned to the play, he made a big hit on a retreating James Gosling to set up up a 2-on-0 break away, Liam Underdown putting Kozic in to equalise at 39:36.
Third Period: Both sides began the period with men in the penalty box (Jack Ball and Nathan Darmanin, both for roughing) and Nick Alley took advantage of the extra space to skate unopposed from defence, before rifling a wrist shot from the blue line to the top corner of Saunders’ net. After that the Lions let their discipline slip away, Richard Hodge (2+2 minutes for roughing and slashing) and Slough’s Joseph Day (2+2 roughing) both sat after a short scrap. The resulting 4-on-4 saw Josh Condren equalise at 49:07 (assist Darmanin) and from there Slough pulled away. Two goals from Conor Redmond in three minutes (50:48 and 51:49, assists Kozic and Underdown) saw Slough run clear, before Kozic (short handed at 55:37, assist Condren) put the game to bed after a mid ice turnover let him go 1-on-1 with Aaron Mallet. The Lions came close to pulling a goal back but by then the momentum was with the Jets as the game ended 5-2 to the visitors.
Lee Valley can take a lot of positives from their first game back, the next game sees a young Chelmsford Warriors side visit the Den on the 21st of September. The Lions looking to pick their campaign up quickly.
Our away game at Peterborough, originally scheduled for next week has been moved to the 14th of December.
Period Scores: 0-0/1-1/1-4
Shots on Goal: 40 on Mallet (LV), 34 on Saunders (Slough)
Penalty Minutes LV 20-20 Slough
Top Scorers: LV- Cave & Alley (1+0), Osbourne & Hodge (0+1). Slough – Kozic (2+2), Redmond (2+0), Condren & Underdown (0+2)
Man of the Match: LV – Nick Alley, Slough – Laura Saunders