Following a tough defeat at the hands of Peterborough the previous week, Lee Valley welcomed Slough Jets to Lee Valley for the second time this season, the third meeting between the sides. The Jets have been homeless since both sides last met when the Lions walked away with a 5-3 win, only playing away games since October.
Lee Valley were missing James Gosling, Ronnie O’Connor, Sam Awoyemi, Joe Weare, Ben Duffy & goalie James Andrew. The latters’ absence meant there was a return to the net for head coach, George Alley, his first appearance in a Lions’ shirt since 2014.
1st Period: The game got off to a quick start but Lee Valley were first on the scoreboard when good work in Slough’s zone allowed Chris Fox (1:45, assist James Hepburn) to give the Lions the lead. This was short-lived however as poor marking saw the Jets an immediate response, and Kirkland Rhys-Evans (2:29, assists Webb, Barker) went through on a breakaway to equalise. Lee Valley responded well, putting shot after shot on Chris Douglas in the Jets’ goal and eventually the pressure told. Nathan Darmanin was penalised for Cross Checking and the resulting powerplay saw Chris Fox (PP goal 8:58, assist Jones) go end to end to restore the Lions’ lead. Both teams had chances but Douglas in particular was keeping the visitors in the game, and despite his team taking several penalties the period ended 2-1 to the Lions with no further goals.
2nd Period: Neither side could keep momentum in the early going and despite Slough’s Luke Dreelan sitting for High Sticking, it was the visitors who got the equaliser when Nathan Darmanin (SH goal, 26:32, unassisted) pounced on a loose pass for a second Jets’ breakaway goal. The Lions protested with the referee over whether the puck had actually crossed the line but the decision stood. This seemed to give the hosts the spark they needed as they began to pelt Douglas’ goal and two minutes later they were back in front when Nick Alley (28:32, assists Sin-Hidge, Horter) batted a backhand shot into the goal. The Lions had found a groove and doubled their lead when James Hepburn (31:50, assist Geldart) found the roof of the net from a tight angle. It was only thirty eight seconds before the lead was tripled, Hepburn (32:28, assist Geldart) scoring a second time in the same shift to send them into the third period with a three goal cushion.
3rd Period: Both teams found chances early on in this period but both goalies held firm, and from there Lee Valley were the team able to maintain control of the possession, without gaining reward for it. An early penalty to Slough’s Flynn Cunningham was followed by a Jets’ timeout. Near misses for Ross Sin-Hidge, Matt Hepburn and Jordan Turner were the story of the first ten minutes. As the period wore on, the Lions’ frustration boiled over when Nick Alley’s big hit saw him called for Boarding, before his protests resulted in him being given a misconduct penalty. There were no more goals for either side as the game finished 5-2 to Lee Valley, their first win in three.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 5-2 Slough Jets
Period Scores: 2-1/3-1/0-0
Shots: Lee Valley 63-32 Slough
Penalties: Lee Valley 22-16 Slough
Scorers: Lee Valley – James Hepburn (2+1), Chris Fox (2+0), Simon Geldart (0+2), Nick Alley (1+0), Ross Sin-Hidge, Simon Jones & Oskar Horter (0+1)
Slough – Nathan Darmanin & Kirkland Rhys-Evans (1+0), Matt Webb & Cameron Barker (0+1)
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – George Alley 32 shots/2 goals, 93.75%
Slough – Chris Douglas 63 shots/5 goals, 92.06%
Man of the Match: Lee Valley – George Alley, Slough – Chris Hocquigny
The Lions’ next game sees them complete their NIHL 2 Cup schedule away to Swindon NIHL Wildcats this Sunday (26/02). The season opening meeting saw the Wildcats win 5-2 but the Lions will be looking to keep momentum before three straight games with league leaders Peterborough.
Face off in Peterborough is at 5:00pm.
Ticket and travel information can be found in the Game Day section of our website.