Almost 30 years on from the first meeting between the two sides. That game in 1986 resulted in a 10-8 win for the Lions in the old British Division 1, this time Lee Valley were looking to kick-start their season in NIHL 2 South East with a first win. The Lions travelled along the M4 to face the Jets in what would temporarily be the last game at the their Absolutely Ice home.
Making his debut for the Lions was former junior Ronnie O’Connor, with Robin Young returning after missing the last game through illness.
Missing from the line up were Chris Fox, Ben Duffy, Joe Weare & Ben Gillingham.
Since the previous meeting with, the Jets had added former Lion Mark Saunders and Nathan Darmanin to their side.
1st Period: The game got off to a scrappy start, with three penalties called in the first two minutes. Two of them fell to the Lions, but they were able to kill off the 4-on-3, then 5-on-3 advantage. However they struggled to clear the puck from their own zone and this resulted in Slough’s first goal when a scramble in front of net allowed Ashley West (7:11, assist Chandler) to poke the puck past James Andrew. Lee Valley needed to respond quickly and they did when Nick Alley (10:50, unassisted) raced clear on a break-away to tie the game. The pressure on the Jets continued and forty one seconds later, the Lions had the lead through James Hepburn (11:31, assists Young, Matt Hepburn) after good work in the Slough zone. The game continued back and forth but Lee Valley held out until the end of the period.
2nd Period: Lions were out of the blocks quickly this period and piled the pressure on Slough. After a period of possession in the Jets’ zone, in his first shift of the game Simon Geldart (24:31, unassisted) pick-pocketed a Slough defender and found the net, this having only arrived at the rink at the end of the first period. Lions then trebled their lead through Matt Hepburn (25:56, assists Alley, Young) after continued pressure. Slough pulled Robert Warrington and replaced him with Chris Douglas. This spurred the Jets into a strong response, and they scored soon-after through Kirkland Rhys-Evans (28:47, assist Saunders). Lions’ discipline started to fail them as Slough continued to crash the net, a penalty to Robin Young gave the Jets the advantage they needed and Luke Martin-Digby (PPG 31:32, assist Dobbins) reduced the lead to one. George Alley then called a time-out to try and stem the flow of Slough’s attack. The breather seemed to settle the Lions and when Christopher Hocquigny was penalised for slashing, Lee Valley made short use of the power-play and broke up the ice quickly and Ross Sin-Hidge (35:35, assist Aiken) rifled a wrist shot past Douglas for his first Lions’ goal, giving the Lions a two goal cushion going into the third.
3rd Period: Lee Valley needed to hold their nerve and did so in a composed fashion that had been absent in crucial moments in games so far. The Lions reduced Slough to only 7 shots and with the Jets sitting a string of penalties early on in the period, Lee Valley maintained good control and continued to rain shots in on Douglas. A strong penalty kill from the Lions, sent them back on the offensive but they couldn’t find a way past the veteran goalie. A late tripping call on Robin Young saw Slough call a timeout, but they couldn’t convert the resulting power-play and Lee Valley closed out the game for their first win of the season.
GAME STATS – (Please note, our stats differ slightly from the official game sheet)
Final Score: Slough Jets 3-5 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 1-2/2-3/0-0
Shots on Goal: Slough 32-66 Lee Valley (12-12/13-17/7-33)
Penalties: Slough 20-18 Lee Valley
Scorers: Lee Valley – Nick Alley & Matt Hepburn (1+1),Robin Young (0+2), Simon Geldart, James Hepburn & Ross Sin-Hidge) (1+0), Henry Aiken (0+1)
Slough – Luke Martin-Digby, Kirkland Rhys-Evans & Ashley West (1+0), Mark Saunders, Charlie Dobbins & Jamie Chandler)
Goaltending: Lee Valley – James Andrew 32 shots/3 goals, 90.63%
Slough – Robert Warrington 18 shots/4 goals, 77.78%, Chris Douglas 44 shots/1 goal, 97.93%
Man of the match: Simon Jones
The Lions take on Invicta Mustangs today in our second match of the weekend.
Face off against the Mustangs is at 5:30pm.
Ticket and travel information can be found in the ‘Game Day’section of our website.