The Lee Valley Lions made a tough trip to the south coast on Saturday, as they travelled to Gosport to take on last season’s playoff champions, the Solent Devils.
The visitors were once again short-benched for this game, as they were missing forwards Tom Hnilica and Joe Berry as well as defencemen Joe Weare, Joe Trotter and Jack Ball. James Andrew started in goal with Steve Grout backing up.
The Devils fielded a full line-up of 20 skaters with Christian Cole starting in net.
First Period – The Lions made the worst possible start as they went 1-0 down after just 13 seconds, Evan Crockford (0:13, assisted Alex Murray and Richard Facey) putting the puck past Andrew on the Devils’ first chance of the game. And it would get worse from there, Crockford (4:44, assisted Facey and Murray) doubling the advantage in the fifth minute and Alexander Trendall (5:09, assisted Drew Campbell and Jamie Fitzpatrick) following up with a third goal just 25 seconds later.
The Devils then added two more goals before the ten minute mark to effectively kill the game as a contest, Daniel Shier (8:37, assisted Alexander Cole and Campbell) making it 4-0 on the powerplay with Lions blueliner Yasin Sridhar in the box for cross-checking and then Campbell (9:56, assisted Ben Lock and Daniel Lackey) making it 5-0 on a delayed penalty.
Try as they might, the Lions could not stop the Devils juggernaut and conceded two more goals before the first period was over; first Rhys McCormick (12:19, assisted Christopher Hocquigny and Shier) made it 6-0 before Shier (14:21, assisted Hocquigny and McCormick) grabbed another powerplay marker with Nicky Brathwaite sitting two for high-sticking. There was to be no further scoring in the period, with the Devils taking a 7-0 lead into the first intermission and outshooting the Lions 38-2 after a totally dominant period.
Second Period – The home side dialled things back a bit in the second period, rotating their bench and giving more ice time to their younger players. The Lions did not have that luxury however, and it looked like being another tough period for them when the Devils struck twice within 51 seconds to make it 9-0; first Fitzpatrick (26:11, assisted Mason Wild and Trendall) scored on the powerplay with Lions forward Ben Gillingham in the box, before Crockford (27:02, assisted Facey and Thomas Bazell) grabbed the ninth goal of the evening and completed his hat-trick.
The Lions swapped netminders at the midway point of the game, with Grout coming in for Andrew. The Devils reached double figures not too long afterwards, Trendall (31:57, assisted Campbell and A. Cole) notching his second of the night and putting the hosts 10-0 in front. And there was time for one more goal before the middle period was done, McCormick (37:39, assisted Hocquigny and Shier) also getting his second of the night and raising the scoreline to 11-0. It would remain that way until the end of the period, with Solent again outshooting the visitors 28-3.
Third Period – The Devils again used the third period to give ice time to their full bench, while the Lions came out stronger, desperate to score at least one goal. However, the Lee Valley players were running on empty at this point; consequently, the last period did not have as many goals or as much action as the first two frames. There were in fact just two goals in the final period, both for the hosts; Trendall (50:10, assisted Campbell and Callum Farrell) made it 12-0 with just under ten minutes remaining in the game before A. Cole (54:24, assisted Crockford and Murray) wrapped things up with the unlucky 13th goal from a Lions perspective. The final buzzer sounded with the Lions going down heavily on the road against the reigning champions, being outshot in the final period 20-4.
It was yet another tough road trip for a group of Lions players who are still finding chemistry and developing as a team, facing a side with good chemistry and a deep roster full of quality. Man of the Match for the visitors was Ben Gillingham for a hard-working performance, while hat-trick scorer Evan Crockford took home the award for the Devils.
The Lions will now hope that they can get something out of their next game, with London rivals Haringey visiting the Den on Saturday.
Final Score: Solent Devils 13-0 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 7-0/4-0/2-0
Shots: Solent Devils 86-9 Lee Valley Lions (38-2/28-3/20-4)
Penalty Minutes: Solent Devils 10-28 Lee Valley Lions
Scorers: Solent – Drew Campbell 1+4, Evan Crockford 3+1, Alexander Trendall 3+1, Daniel Shier 2+2, Rhys McCormick 2+1, Alexander Cole 1+2, Alex Murray 0+3, Richard Facey 0+3, Christopher Hocquigny 0+3, Jamie Fitzpatrick 1+1, Daniel Lackey 0+1, Mason Wild 0+1, Thomas Bazell 0+1, Callum Farrell 0+1, Ben Lock 0+1
Goaltenders: Solent – Christian Cole (60:00 played, 9 shots/0 goals against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (31:44 played, 56 shots/9 goals against), Steve Grout (28:16 played, 30 shots/4 goals against)
Man of the Match – Ben Gillingham (Lee Valley), Evan Crockford (Solent)
The Lions’ next game is at home to the Haringey Huskies this upcoming Saturday the 20th of October. Faceoff at the Den will be at 5:30pm.