The pride of East London took another late blow as the Lions squandered a 4-3 lead in the final four minutes, giving the win to an under strength Warriors side.
First Period: Neither side took control of the game early, a lot of passes and clearances went wayward and no clear cut chances were created however, it didn’t take long for a goal to come. As James Hepburn took an early interference penalty, less than ten seconds into the Chelmsford powerplay, Nick Alley overshot a clearance from his own zone sending the puck over the plexi at the opposite end which saw him receive a two minute penalty for delay of game. Chelmsford kept possession for the 5-on-3. The Lions defended well but, as Hepburn returned to the ice a shot from Steve Dunnage (3:59, assist Wilson) saw the puck squeeze past a screened Aaron Mallet and the Warriors had their powerplay goal. Lee Valley came back into the game and started to make more chances, Hepburn and Max Gerstein causing havoc in Chelmsford’s defensive end, the equaliser never came though and the period ended 1-0 to the visitors.
Second Period: The Lions came out much stronger and like Chelmsford in the first, they picked up an early goal. Theo Abban (22:39, assist Hodge) out muscled two Warriors defence-men from the corner and put the puck through Adam Young in the visitors net to tie the game. Lee Valley couldn’t make the pressure tell and shortly after, Chelmsford were back in front. A miss-communication between the Lions saw Courtney Grant score (23:14, assist Wilson and Whiting) from a 2-on-1 breakaway on a helpless Mallet. This would become a running theme in the match, as the Lions took more possession and created more chances. Ben Osbourne (27:13, assist Yufit and Fedotovas) and Richard Hodge (28:48, assist Yufit and Alley) quickly put the Lions in front and settled the team into a rhythm. The hits were started to fly too and after Hepburn nailed Richard Whiting in front of the home bench, Calum Heath missed two chances in quick succession. Despite all of the pressure being on Chelmsford, it was another miss-communication from Lee Valley the led to the equaliser. Conor Swainsbury (39:42, assist Grant) made the break and took the pass to tie the game just as the period was coming to a close, ending Lions 3-3 Warriors.
Third Period: Lee Valley were fastest out of the blocks again, holding the puck well and after Gerstein, Hepburn and Peach created some good opportunities. Theo Abban slotted in after Gerstein raced into the corner and sent the pass across to the waiting winger (43:51). Chelmsford called a time out mid way through the period and started to work their way back into the match, Lee Valley were starting to look unsure in their own end couldn’t seem to clear the puck. Jack Ball then took a tripping call late in the stanza and it only took twelve seconds of powerplay for Chelmsford to get their equaliser, Stephen Woodford (56:42, assist Dervish) tying the game at 4-4. As the clock began to wind down, both teams went looking for a winner but it was Chelmsford who got the important goal. It was deja vu for the Lions as a mid ice turnover saw another 2-on-1 break, Swainsbury (58:06, assists Staples and Grant) the recipient, putting the visitors 5-4 ahead. Lions tried desperately to equalise, Abban coming close to a hat-trick in the dying seconds but Young saved well. The game ending in disappointment again, although the improvements are starting to show.
Period Scores: 0-1/3-2/1-2,
Shots on Goal: 37 on Mallet (LV), 32 on Young (CHE)
Penalties in Minutes: LV 12-4 CHE
Man of the Match: LV – Theo Abban, CHE – Lewis George Jones
Top Points: Lee Valley – Theo Abban (2+0), Richard Hodge (1+1) and Gennadi Yufit (0+2). Chelmsford – Courtney Grant (1+2), Conor Swainsbury (2+0) and Thomas Wilson (0+2)
The Lions travel to Cardiff next weekend, before welcoming the Wightlink Tigers to the Den the following Saturday.
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