The Lee Valley Lions suffered a heavy defeat to league leaders Slough on Saturday evening, going down 15-4 at home.
The Jets came into the game riding an unbeaten streak of 21 games in a row, so the Lions knew they would have a tough game on their hands.
Around half of the Lions roster was unavailable for the game, leaving the home side with just 12 skaters; while the Jets were able to ice a full roster of 20.
First Period: A tough task got even tougher for the Lions early on, as versatile player Gus Zimmerman suffered an ankle injury after falling awkwardly following a collision with a Jets player, and he had to be helped from the ice.
Zimmerman played no further part in the game, leaving the Lions with just 11 skaters for the remainder of the contest.
The Lions held off the Jets charge for a while despite the numbers disadvantage, but towards the end of the first period the Jets started to turn on the style, and were rewarded as goals from Luke Smital and Adam Rosbottom put the visitors 2-0 up.
The home side fought back though, halving the deficit in the 19th minute through a Joe Miller (18:45, assisted Richard Hodge) goal. The Lions thus trailed 2-1 heading into the first intermission.
Second Period: Slough extended their advantage to 4-1 at the midpoint of the game thanks to goals from Dan Rose and Bradley Hildreth, but the Lions still hoped to keep the scoreline close as the game wore on.
However, the home side conceded four more goals towards the end of the second period as they began to tire. Rose scored twice to complete his hat-trick, with Rosbottom also grabbing his second of the night and Jets player-coach Lukas Smital getting the other goal.
The Lions’ second goal of the evening was sandwiched in between the Jets’ sixth and seventh goals, as Czech forward Tom Hnilica (36:25, assisted Joe Berry) scored his 17th goal of the season. The score was thus 8-2 in favour of the Jets heading into the third period.
Third Period: Unfortunately for the Lions, the final period brought more of the same as their tired legs couldn’t cope with the rampant league leaders. Slough added a further seven goals in the final period to complete a rout, with Rosbottom grabbing two more, Lukas Smital scoring his second, and further tallies coming through Ryan Handisides (two goals), Juha Lindgren and Tom Fisher.
There were a few high points for the Lions fans to cheer during the last period though; Joe Berry (49:58, assisted Jordan Sullivan) crowned a successful return from injury with a goal, while Hnilica (59:55, assisted Berry) grabbed his second of the night and 18th of the season with just five seconds to go in the game.
The final buzzer sounded with the Jets taking a comfortable victory and extending their unbeaten streak to 22 games on the bounce.
Man of the Match for the Lions was Hnilica, while four-goal man Rosbottom took home the award for the Jets.
The Lions are next in action on Sunday 17th March, as they travel to Surrey to take on the Guildford Phoenix. Faceoff at the Spectrum will be at 18:15.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 4-15 Slough Jets
Period Scores: 1-2/1-6/2-7
Shots: Lee Valley 34-68 Slough (12-20/9-20/13-28)
Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 6-10 Slough
Scorers: Lee Valley – Joe Berry 1+2, Tom Hnilica 2+0, Joe Miller 1+0, Jordan Sullivan 0+1, Richard Hodge 0+1
Slough – Adam Rosbottom 4+2, Daniel Rose 3+2, Lukas Smital 2+3, Ryan Handisides 2+2, Luke Smital 1+2, Tom Fisher 1+1, Juha Lindgren 1+1, Simon Griffiths 0+2, Harry Harcup 0+2, Bradley Hildreth 1+0, Jamie Chandler 0+1, Harry Wright 0+1, Luke Dreelan 0+1, Robert Horsfall 0+1, Liam Poulson 0+1, Luke Reynolds 0+1
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (37:40 played, 36 shots/7 goals against); Steve Grout (22:20 played, 32 shots/8 goals conceded)
Slough – Matthew Smital (29:23 played, 19 shots/1 goal against); Brett Shepherd (30:37 played, 15 shots/3 goals against)
Man of the Match – Tom Hnilica (Lee Valley), Adam Rosbottom (Slough)