With the wind and rain howling outside, Lee Valley were looking like the odds were against them for their first game of the NIHL 2 South East season.
The Lions were missing captain Nick Alley, James Hepburn, Jordan Turner, Joe Weare, Robin Young & Ben Gillingham. Matt Hepburn took over the captaincy for the game.
Visitors Slough were playing their first game of the 16/17 season, and brought a young team featuring EPIHL and London Raiders goalie Chris Douglas.
1st Period: Slough started strongly, controlling the puck well and kept the Lions pinned back in their own zone. After soaking up the Jets pressure, Lee Valley were undone when the puck was chipped in, caught a nick in the boards and popped out in front of a gaping net, falling to Christopher Hocquingy (05:44, assist Sanderson) after James Andrew and the defence lost track of it. The Jets continued to control the pace and possession, Harry Hatfield (09:35, assist Evans) scoring shortly after Slough set up camp in Lee Valley’s zone.
The Lions needed to respond quickly and began to put Slough’s defence under pressure with a succession of chip and chase plays, and the pressure paid off as Craig Cowell was penalised for interferance. Whilst Lee Valley weren’t able to score on the power-play, they were camped in the zone when Cowell returned to the ice. As he did, a shot from the blue line across Slough’s goal found Matt Hepburn (12:51, assists Gosling and Fox) and the captain chipped in to reduce Slough’s lead to one. Lee Valley’s woes continued as they received a penalty for two many men on the ice, meaning they would begin the 2nd period short-handed.
2nd Period: The Lions’ killed the penalty and having being out-shot 20-6 in the first period, started the 2nd period more brightly and kept Chris Douglas busy early on. It wasn’t long before Lee Valley were level and a quick break from a turnover in their own end saw Simon Geldart (21:54, assist Fox) break down the boards and score on a 3-on-1.
Lee Valley continued their resurgence and were controlling the puck much better in both ends of the ice, and with Flynn Cunningham sitting two minutes for slashing, the Lions broke insto Slough’s zone again and took the lead when Chris Fox sent a back hand pass to Ben Duffy (29:58, assists Fox, Aiken) who one timed a snap shot into the net, giving the Lions the lead.
It wasn’t long before Slough equalised though as a long range shot by James Sanderson (30:16, assist Cunningham) was initally caught, the dropped by James Andrew in Lee Valley’s goal.
As Lee Valley tried to regain the lead, a skirmish in front of the Slough goal saw Sam Awoyemi & Simon Geldart binned for roughing along with Slough’s Cowell and Chris Beal. Then, Ross Sin-Hidge was brought down for a penalty shot, but was unable to convert it.
The Lions continued to maintain control for the remainder of the period as it ended at 3-3.
3rd Period: This was a much tighter affair with both teams doing well to cancel each other out, with a lot of big hits in neutral ice. Slough started the period the stronger but couldn’t find a way past Andrew and the Lions’ defence. Lee Valley in turn found themselves frustrated but a couple of athletic saves from Chris Douglas.
Half way through the period, Matthew Eggen was was called for high sticks but the Lions successfully killed the penalty. Later on James Joseph took exception to a hit and was also penalised for roughing.
With Slough beginning to gain momentum, they called a time-out with just over two minutes left in the game. Despite this, it was Lee Valley who came closest to scoring a winner, Matt Hepburn being stifled at the death by Douglas with the game finishing 3-3.
Final Score: Lee Valley 3-3 Slough Jets
Period Scores: 1-2/2-1/0-0
Shots on Goal: Lee Valley 27-36 Slough
Penalties in Minutes: Lee Valley 16-24 Swindon
Scoring: Lee Valley: Chris Fox (0+3), Matt Hepburn, Simon Geldart & Ben Duffy (1+0), James Gosling & Henry Aiken (0+1)
Slough: James Sanderson (1+1), Harry James Hatfield & Christopher Hocquigny (1+0), Flynn Sitch-Cunningham & Kirkland Rhys Evans (0+1)
Goaltending Stats: James Andrew (Lions) 36 shots/3 goals 91.67%,
Chris Douglas (Slough) 27 shots/3 goals 88.89%
Peterbourough’s win over Chelmsford Warriors sees the Lions start the season in 2nd place, and this Saturday (17/09/2016) sees us travel to face the Islanders in Peterborough.
Then on Sunday (18/09/2016) we welcome Haringey Racers for the first London derby of the season.
Face off is at 5:30pm and you can get information about tickets & travel to Lee Valley Ice Centre on the Game Day section of our website.