Having already been eliminated from the NIHL 2 Cup competition, Lee Valley headed to Swindon to complete their schedule in the group stage. The first meeting between the two sides opened the Lions’ season and ended with a 5-2 win for the Wildcats.
Injuries and other commitments meant the Lions arrived with a short bench. Missing were James Gosling, Oliver Glover, Henry Aiken, Ben Duffy, James Andrew, Ronnie O’Connor, Simon Geldart, Jordan Turner & Robin Young. George Alley returned to the goal in Andrew’s absence.
1st Period: Lee Valley got on the front foot early, cutting out Swindon’s efforts to break out of the zone but a penalty to James Hepburn for Delay of Game, gave the Wildcat’s an early advantage. A screen in front of the goal allowed Deakan Fielder (PP goal 4:00, assists Widdows, Smith) to score from long range, and quickly after when Daniel Pettitt (4:12, assists Coakley, Chillcott) saw his shot deflect in off a Lions player’s stick. Simon Jones was then called for hooking and the resulting powerplay saw Swindon stretch their lead through Jordan Smith (PP goal 6:40, assists Robson, Taylor). Lee Valley responded when Ben Gillingham (10:25, assists Fox, Matt Hepburn) bundled home his own rebound, but Swindon’s fourth was added when Jordan Smith (10:58, assists Widdows, Taylor) was given too much room in front of the Lions’ goal before scoring passed a scrambling Alley. The Lions replied again through James Hepburn (17:23, assists Fox, Matt Hepburn) who blasted a slap-shot from the blue line, before Swindon added a fifth when Loris Taylor (17:41, assist Fielder) was allowed to skate end-to-end, giving the Wildcats a three goal lead at the end of a forgettable period for the visitors.
2nd Period: Lions got off to a better start but the rebounds weren’t falling to them. Swindon created good opportunities as well but Alley made some scrambling saves. After a period of dominance, they got their sixth when Loris Taylor (27:03, assist Pettitt) chased down his own shot off the boards to score. Lee Valley struggled to get a foot hold but, were able to close out the period without conceding again, Lee Hounslow clearing off the line and Alley making a glove save towards the end of the stanza.
3rd Period: Lions had the perfect start to the period when Nick Alley (40:14, assist Jones) fired a wrist shot high that was dropped into the goal by Wildcats’ goalie, Bird. Lee Valley continued to pressure Swindon’s goal but Bird was holding firm, and the Lions couldn’t get to their rebounds. Despite out-shooting their hosts for two of the three periods, they weren’t able to add to their tally and the game ended 6-3 to Swindon.
The result sees Swindon go through to the finals weekend, along with Peterborough Islanders, Cardiff Fire and one other team to be confirmed from Group A.
Final Score: Swindon Wildcats 6-3 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 5-2/1-0/0-1
Shots: Swindon 42-41 Lee Valley
Penalties in Minutes: Swindon 10-8 Lee Valley
Scorers: Lee Valley – Matt Hepburn & Chris Fox (0+2), Nick Alley, James Hepburn & Ben Gillingham (1+0), Simon Jones (0+1)
Swindon – Loris Taylor (2+2), Jordan Smith (2+1), Deakan Fielder & Daniel Pettitt (1+1), Stuart Widdows (0+2), Adam Coakley & Nathan Chilcott (0+1)
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – George Alley 42 shots/6 goals, 85.71%
Swindon – Graeme Bird 41 shots/3 goals, 92.68%
The Lions now face three games against league leaders Peterborough Islanders, starting with a trip to Mallard Rd this Saturday (04/03) before a double header the following week, away on Saturday 11/03 before returning to East London on Sunday 12/03.
Face off in Peterborough is at 5:00pm.
Ticket and travel information can be found in the Game Day section of our website.