Lee Valley travelled to Gillingham to face a resurgent Invicta Mustangs who, despite their league position, had been pushing teams close in recent weeks. The Lions had been on a poor run of form and were missing nine players, including captain James Hatfull and former Invicta players Kevin Lake and Matthew Drake.
First Period: The Mustangs came out of the blocks faster than the visitors, winning more 50/50 chances and putting early pressure on George Alley in the Lions’ net. The Lions did test Matthew Daubney in Invicta’s goal but he held up well. Invicta were first to break the deadlock when Tom Dennis (4:47, assist Carle) was left unmarked to pick up the rebound. Jake Luton (6:32, unassisted) then skated in to double their lead and before the 10-minute mark, the Mustangs were 3-0 up when Josh Carle (8:46, assist Holt) fired past Alley. The Lions fought back but still couldn’t find a way past Daubney and as the period was coming to a close, Theo Abban made a clumsy hit which saw him thrown from the game for boarding.
Second Period: Like the Oxford game the week before, the Lions began the second stanza on a major powerplay (meaning they couldn’t return to full strength if Invicta scored) and it wasn’t long before Invicta had their fourth – when a Lions’ defenceman tried to clear the puck, it came off of James Hepburn’s face and fell to Danny Terry (23:29, unassisted), who shot the puck into the top shelf of the net. Alley was called into action several times for the rest of the powerplay and once that ended, Lee Valley began to work their way into the game again and they got on the scoreboard when Nick Alley’s shot was picked up by Romanas Fedotovas (25:12, assist Alley), who bundled the puck into the net. Midway through the period and the Lions were down by four again when they failed to gain possession on a delayed penalty and Jake Luton (30:10, unassisted) collected a loose puck and rounded Alley for a fifth. Lee Valley just couldn’t get any momentum going and the Mustangs kept piling the pressure on Alley. With both sides short-benched the players started to tire and as the plays broke down both sides had breakaway opportunities to score but neither side added to their tallies.
Third Period: Lee Valley knew they could pull the game back; they had been creating chances but still they couldn’t find a way past Daubney. As the Lions started to break out, a loose pass went straight to Michael Stokes (52:22) who went one-on-one with Alley and finished the game off as a contest. After Nick Alley and Tom Dennis dropped the gloves, Lee Valley did add to their tally when Fedotovas (59:33, assist Hepburn) blasted past Daubney straight from a face-off but it was too little and the game ended there.
The Lions host Basingstoke Buffalo next Saturday (22/2) and will be looking for an upturn in fortunes after a run of four games without a win.
Final Score: Invicta 6-2 Lee Valley
Period Scores: 3-0/2-1/1-1
Shots on Goal: 45 on Daubney (Invicta), 57 on Alley (Lee Valley)
Penalties in Minutes: Invicta 30-41 Lee Valley
Man of the Match: Romanas Fedotovas
Scorers: Lee Valley – Romanas Fedotovas (2+0), Nick Alley & James Hepburn (0+1)
Invicta – Jake Luton (2+0), Josh Carle (1+1), Danny Terry, Tom Dennis & Michael Stokes (1+0), Kwame Holt (0+1)