The Lee Valley Lions played their first away game of the calendar year 2019 on Sunday night, as they travelled to Oxford to take on the reigning league champions, the Oxford City Stars.
The Lions handed a debut to forward David Grindrod, and started with James Andrew in net with Steve Grout backing up. The Stars iced a strong line-up of 19 skaters, with Milan Ronai starting in net and John Dibble as backup.
First Period – The home side got off to a superb start, scoring three goals within the first seven minutes to take the game by the scruff of the neck early on. The early goals for the Stars came through Lee Richardson (1:30), Adam Harris (3:36) and Tom Davis (6:31). The Lions did manage to get on the board in the 14th minute and get the score back to 3-1 as Tom Hnilica (13:29, assisted Simon Jones) scored on the powerplay with Oxford’s Josh Oliver sitting 2+10 for tripping and abuse of official.
In the remaining six minutes of the first period, there was to be just one more goal scored as the home side went 4-1 up courtesy of an unassisted goal by Dominic Hopkins (17:08). This came during a passage of 4-on-4 play as Lions’ Jordan Sullivan and Stars’ Joe Edwards were both in the box. The first period ended with the Stars leading 4-1, and outshooting the Lions 18-6.
Second Period – The Lions were caught cold with just 36 seconds played in the middle period, as Darren Elliott (20:36) put the puck home to give the home side a 5-1 advantage. They would quickly extend that advantage to 8-1 by the midway point of the second period as Conor Redmond (21:16), Max Florey (22:48) and Hopkins (28:03) all netted for the Stars. Steve Grout came into the Lions net in relief of James Andrew after the seventh goal.
Shortly after the eighth goal. Lions’ Yasin Sridhar and Dexter Crawford, and Stars’ Harry Harrison and Jake Florey, were all called for fighting, with Sridhar also receiving an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Lions killed off that penalty, but the Stars scored their ninth goal shortly afterwards as Redmond doubled his tally for the evening at 30:49. There was to be just one more goal for the period, as Redmond completed his hat-trick as he netted at 36:32. The Stars ended the second period 10-1 up, having outshot the Lions 19-6.
Third Period – The Lions started the third period killing almost two minutes of 5-on-3, with both Jake Wadge and Dexter Crawford being penalised towards the end of the second period. The visitors killed this off well, and did not concede any goals in the first half of the third period either as the game petered out a little bit.
There were to be three goals in the last six minutes of the game, all coming from the Stars; Alexander Staples (54:49), Redmond (57:11) and Joe Edwards (58:18) completed the scoring for the night, with the champions Oxford beating the Lions by a final scoreline of 13-1.
Lions forward Conner Smith took home the Man of the Match award for the visitors after an energetic performance, while four goal man Conor Redmond took home the award for the home side.
Final Score: Oxford City Stars 13-1 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 4-1/6-0/3-0
Shots: Oxford City Stars 60-14 Lee Valley Lions (18-6/19-6/23-2)
Penalty Minutes: Oxford City Stars 46-24 Lee Valley Lions
Scorers: Oxford – Conor Redmond 4+1, Lee Richardson 1+4, Dominic Hopkins 2+2, Tom Davis 1+1, Adam Harris 1+1, Max Florey 1+0, Alexander Staples 1+0, Joe Edwards 1+0, Darren Elliott 1+0, Jake Florey 0+1, Matthew Lawday 0+1, Michal Oravec 0+1, Dax Hedges 0+1
Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 1+0, Simon Jones 0+1
Goaltenders: Oxford – Milan Ronai (60:00 played, 14 shots/1 goal against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (30:49 played, 22 shots/7 goals against); Steve Grout (29:11 played, 38 shots/6 goals against)
Man of the Match – Conner Smith (Lee Valley), Conor Redmond (Oxford)
The Lee Valley Lions are back in action at home this upcoming Saturday 19th January, as the Guildford Phoenix visit the Den. Faceoff will be at 17:30.
The Lions then travel to Basingstoke the very next day, Sunday 20th January, to take on the Basingstoke Buffalo. Faceoff will be at 18:15.