There was great anticipation ahead of this match, the first North London ice hockey derby since 2008. That time, the then-named Haringey Greyhounds left the Den with a 5-4 victory. As the largest home crowd of the season descended upon Lea Bridge Road, the Lions were almost back to full strength after a disappointing trip to the Isle of Wight the week before. Only Theo Abban was absent from the line-up.
First Period: It was a close-knit affair to start, both teams went at it from the goal and the levels of physicality were on show from the off. Lions came closest when Romanas Fedotovas and James Hepburn thought they had set Richard Hodge up, but the referee washed the goal out and infuriated the Lions’ bench by handing Fedotovas a 10min illegal equipment penalty. The frustration clearly got to the hosts and Haringey were first to score as a result. Their pressure saw Jack Ball take a holding penalty and less than a minute into the powerplay, Ricky Mills (11:08, assist Osbourne) was found unmarked in the Lions’ zone to score the opener. Lee Valley continued to battle, forcing some good saves from Shepherd in the Racers’ net but Haringey continued to keep the pressure on the home team’s net. It was just towards the end of the period when Mason Webster (18:11, assist Child) put the visitors 2-0 up to end the period.
Second Period: Lee Valley had to start a comeback early if they wanted any chance and they did just that, when Fedotovas (21:05, assist Hepburn) was sent clean through by James Hepburn and let off a booming slap shot past Shepherd. Haringey doubled their lead again when Drew Campbell (25:51, assists Webster and Martin) scored. Lee Valley hadn’t given up though and, after good work in the corner by Lee Valley’s resident Lithuanian, Fedotovas found linemate Hepburn (26:20, assists Fedotovas and Hodge) open in the Racers’ slot to score through Shepherd’s legs. The Lions were growing in confidence, mounting attack after attack when finally the equaliser came. The young line of Max Gerstein, Bailey Wootton and Nick Alley chipped into the visitors’ end and hustled hard to get the puck out to Alley (28:48, assists Wootton and Payne), whose shot hit the Racers’ goalie, but the puck trickled through him to tie the match. After all that effort, Lee Valley began to drop off the pace and Haringey worked their way back into the game. First Ricky Mills (34:31, assists Rutherford and Brown) re-gained the lead and soon after Drew Campbell (36:34, assist Webster) was put through on his own to deke past Aaron Mallet. The period ended 5-3 to Haringey.
Third Period: In a period where frustration got the better of the home side, the Racers were quick to deflate the hosts. As Lee Valley were on the powerplay, a lack of communication found Perry Whitlock (45:25, assist Martin) unmarked to score short-handed, and fourteen seconds later, Sean Martin (45:39, assist Roberts) squeezed the puck past Mallet at the near post for Haringey’s 7th of the evening. Whilst the game as a contest had ended, both teams kept up the physicality and the penalties continued to come as the game wore on. Lee Valley couldn’t capitalise on their powerplay opportunities and the game ended 7-3 with the local bragging rights going to North London for now.
The teams will renew acquaintances on March 15th over at Alexandra Palace.
Period Scores: 0-2/3-2/0-2
Shots on Goal: 66 on Mallet (LV), 25 on Shepherd (HAR)
Penalties in Minutes: Lee Valley 28-40 Haringey
Scorers: Lee Valley – Romanas Fedotovas & James Hepburn (1+1), Nick Alley (1+0), Bailey Wootton, Richard Hodge & Ryan Payne (0+1)
Haringey – Mason Webster & Sean Martin (1+2), Drew Campbell & Ricky Mills (2+0), Perry Whitlock (1+0), Matt Brown, Sam Roberts, Anthony Child, Ricky Rutherford & Ben Osbourne (0+1)
Man of the Match: Jarvis Mewett
Next Saturday 1/2/14 sees Swindon NIHL Wildcats visit Lea Bridge Road.