The Lee Valley Lions fell to a 6-3 away defeat against the Invicta Mustangs on Saturday, having trailed by just a single goal going into the final period.
Goals from Joe Berry, Gus Zimmerman and Simon Jones weren’t quite enough for the East London side, who were missing top scorer Tom Hnilica for the tricky trip to Kent.
First Period – The Lions made the better start to the game, as Berry (17:27, assisted Zimmerman) scored his eighth goal of the season in the 18th minute to put the visitors 1-0 up.
But the Mustangs hit back, beating Lions goaltender Steve Grout twice within the next 65 seconds of the game as first Joseph Bliss (18:06, assisted Thomas Dennis) and then Harry Blake (18:32, assisted Bliss) put the hosts 2-1 up.
This was to be the score at the end of the first period, with the Mustangs outshooting the Lions 20-6.
Second Period – The Mustangs then extended their advantage to 3-1 in the 24th minute, as Blake (24:00, assisted Anthony Baskerville) scored his second goal of the game.
But the Lions roared back as Zimmerman (28:51) cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 29th minute, with the assists coming from Elvis Timofejevs – the Latvian defenceman getting his first point in a Lions jersey – and Joe Miller.
There was to be no more scoring in the second period, with the Lions trailing 3-2 going into the final frame having been outshot 12-7 in the period.
Third Period – Unfortunately for the Lions, it was the Mustangs who got on the scoreboard first in the final period as 16-year-old Gregor Mcallan (43:10, assisted Bliss) put them 4-2 up in the 44th minute. And things got worse for the Lions in the 48th minute as Bliss (48:00, assisted Michael Stokes) got his second goal of the game, giving the home side a 5-2 lead.
Mustangs forward Blake (52:22, assisted Dennis) then completed his hat-trick in the 53rd minute to give the Mustangs a seemingly unassailable 6-2 advantage.
But the Lions still had some fight left in them, and cut the deficit to 6-3 just 21 seconds later as Simon Jones (52:43, assisted Michael Jacobs) scored his second goal of the season.
The Lions then looked to attack in the closing stages and try to get some more goals on the board, but were unable to get any more pucks past Mustangs netminder Matthew Passmore.
And things got heated with just 65 seconds left to go in the game, as Lions defenceman Dexter Crawford was tossed from the match for kneeing after a hit on Mustangs youngster Mcallan. Crawford and Mustangs’ Connor Pike then dropped the gloves and were handed four penalty minutes each for roughing.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Lions went down to a 6-3 road defeat to the Mustangs – a frustrating scoreline considering the East London side were only 3-2 down in the 44th minute.
Man of the Match for the Lions was Gus Zimmerman, who impressed with a goal and an assist; while Mustangs youngster Harry Blake took home the award for his side after scoring a hat-trick.
The Lions are next in action next Sunday 24th February, as they hit the road again to take on Peterborough. Faceoff at Planet Ice Peterborough will be at 5:30pm.
Final Score: Invicta Mustangs 6-3 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 2-1/1-1/3-1
Shots: Invicta 52-20 Lee Valley (20-6/12-7/20-7)
Penalty Minutes: Invicta 8-31 Lee Valley Lions
Scorers: Invicta – Joseph Bliss 2+2, Harry Blake 3+0, Thomas Dennis 0+2, Gregor Mcallan 1+0, Michael Stokes 0+1, Anthony Baskerville 0+1
Lee Valley – Gus Zimmerman 1+1, Joe Berry 1+0, Simon Jones 1+0, Joe Miller 0+1, Elvis Timofejevs 0+1, Michael Jacobs 0+1
Goaltenders: Invicta – Matthew Passmore (60:00 played, 20 shots/3 goals against)
Lee Valley – Steve Grout (60:00 played, 52 shots/6 goals against)
Man of the Match – Gus Zimmerman (Lee Valley), Harry Blake (Invicta)