The Lee Valley Lions ended their 2018-19 NIHL South Division 2 league campaign on Saturday with a 10-4 road defeat to the Bristol Pitbulls.
Czech forward Tom Hnilica grabbed a brace to end the season on 22 goals, with Conner Smith and Ben Gillingham also netting for a decimated Lions side that only had 11 skaters available for the game.
First Period: The Lions did take the lead early in the opening period, as Conner Smith (5:31) struck in the sixth minute with assists from Joe Miller and Calum Heath. It was the fifth goal of the season for 17-year-old Smith, who had also scored two goals against the Pitbulls on his Lions debut back in December.
The Pitbulls came back just 70 seconds later, equalising through Olly Shone, before Adrian Smith put them 2-1 up in the 11th minute on the powerplay.
The score stayed this way until the last minute of the first period, when the Lions had a defensive collapse and shipped three goals inside 26 seconds. Josh Galea, Josh Dolphin and Adrian Smith were all on target to give the Pitbulls a 5-1 lead going into the second period.
Second Period: The Lions started off well in the middle frame, holding off the Pitbulls and limiting them to just one goal as Nathan Chilcott scored a powerplay marker in the 33rd minute.
The visitors were then able to bounce back just five seconds later, Hnilica (33:02) grabbing his 21st of the season to cut the deficit to 6-2.
There was to be no more scoring in the second period, despite the Pitbulls putting a total of 27 shots on Lions netminder James Andrew.
Third Period: The final period didn’t start off well for the Lions, as they conceded three goals to go 9-2 down; Adrian Smith completed his hat-trick while Matthew Thornhill – in his final game for the Pitbulls before retiring – and Jamie Newton also netted.
The visitors got one back in the 54th minute as Ben Gillingham (53:29) grabbed his first goal of the season, assists coming from Hnilica and captain Simon Jones, to make it 9-3.
Bristol completed their scoring for the evening not long afterwards, Australian forward David Manning putting the icing on the cake and giving the Pitbulls a 10-3 lead.
But the Lions were to score the final goal of the game, with Hnilica (59:07) netting with just 53 seconds left to bring his personal goal tally up to 22 on the season, and giving the Lions their fourth of the evening.
The game ended 10-4 in favour of the Pitbulls, with hat-trick man Adrian Smith being awarded Man of the Match for Bristol and his namesake Conner Smith receiving the award for the Lions.
That concludes the season for the Lions, who will be back in September for a new NIHL South Division 2 campaign.
The Lee Valley Lions would like to thank everyone associated with the team for their efforts and support this season.
Final Score: Bristol Pitbulls 10-4 Lee Valley Lions
Period Scores: 5-1/1-1/4-2
Shots: Bristol 76-26 Lee Valley (32-8/27-7/17-11)
Penalty Minutes: Bristol 8-10 Lee Valley
Scorers: Bristol – Josh Dolphin 1+4, Adrian Smith 3+0, Jamie Newton 1+2, Nathan Chilcott 1+2, Steve Osman 0+3, David Manning 1+1, Richard Hargreaves 0+2, Josh Galea 1+0, Olly Shone 1+0, Matthew Thornhill 1+0, Adam Coakley 0+1, Thomas Asprey 0+1, Tom Egerton 0+1
Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+1, Ben Gillingham 1+0, Conner Smith 1+0, Calum Heath 0+1, Joe Miller 0+1, Simon Jones 0+1
Goaltenders: Bristol– Andrew Leckie (60:00 played, 26 shots/4 goals against)
Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 76 shots/10 goals against)
Man of the Match – Conner Smith (Lee Valley), Adrian Smith (Bristol)