After a week’s break, Lee Valley faced a double header against last season’s double winners Chelmsford Warriors, followed by a trip to Alexandra Palace to play against local rivals Haringey Racers.
Last season’s champions Chelmsford, were yet to win a game after two defeats to Peterborough.
The Lions entered the game with the returning Oskar Horter making his first appearance of the season, along with returns for Ollie Glover, Ben Gillingham & James Gosling. Missing from the Lions squad were Ben Duffy, Joe Weare, Sam Awoyemi & Jordan Turner.
With their parent side the Chieftains not playing, the Warriors arrived on Lea Bridge Road featuring young Chieftains Jake Sylvester, Ollie Baldock, Brandon Ayliffe and goaltender Sonny Phillips. Also playing were former Lions TJ Fillery & Ashlee Cave.
1st Period: Both teams started the game very quickly with the play going back and forth in the early exchanges. Chelmsford’s attempts to stretch the game were being stifled by the Lions’ pressure, and it paid off when a turnover saw Chris Fox (7:28, assists Alley, Sin-Hidge) alone in front of net to give the Lions the lead. The visitors were quick to respond and put a lot more pressure on Lee Valley in the neutral zone and, when the Lions failed to get the puck out of their own zone, the resulting pressure allowed Brandon Ayliffe (10:09, assists Sylvester, Cave) to blast a shot past James Andrew. Chelmsford grew into the game from there and despite Oskar Horter being penalised for intereference, the Lions held out going into the close of the period.
2nd Period: The Lions killed the penalty and gained much more of a foot-hold in the Chelmsford zone, with several near chances on Sonny Phillips’ net. With Lee Valley unable to convert though, a spell of Chelmsford pressure saw a deflected pass clip off of Ashlee Cave (29:57, assists Polston, Brown) and trickle past Andrew to give the Warriors the lead. The game was still end to end and both sides created very good chances, but the Warriors were starting to control the game as the period drew to a close, missing two open nets as the score remained close at 2-1. As the Lions dumped the puck on net, they were caught making a slow line change and the result was another penalty to end the period, this time for too many men.
3rd period: Chelmsford took their opportunity quickly as Ayliffe (PP goal 40:35, assists Baldock, Morgan) converted in the slot to double the Warriors’ lead. The game was still being played at a high tempo, with both goalies being kept busy but it was Chelmsford who were next to score. Jake Sylvester (50:00, assist Morgan) added a fourth, which was proceeded by two more goals in a minute. First Ollie Baldock (52:32, assist Ayliffe) and despite a timeout, Ricky Mills (53:21, assist Fillery) was left alone after a face-off to make it six.
Lions rallied with two goals eleven seconds apart, James Hepburn (PP goal 55:25, assists Glover, Matt Hepburn) and Nick Alley (55:36, unassisted) halving Chelmsford’s lead.
With ten seconds left in the game, and Chris Fox and Will Polston both sat for roughing, the resulting face-off and some lax play from Lee Valley saw Thomas Wilson (59:58, unassisted) break away to bag a seventh for the visitors
Period Scores: 1-1/0-1/2-5
Shots on Goal: Lions 36-45 Chelmsford (8-13/15-16/13-16)
Penalties in Minutes: Lions 6-6 Chelmsford
Scorers: Lions – Nick Alley (1+1), James Hepburn & Chris Fox (1+0), Ross Sin-Hidge, Matt Hepburn & Ollie Glover (0+1)
Chelmsford – Brandon Ayliffe (2+1), Jake Sylvester, Ashlee Cave & Ollie Baldock (1+1), Ryan Morgan (0+2), Thomas Wilson & Ricky Mills (1+0), TJ Fillery, Will Polston & Gary Brown (0+1)
Goaltending: Lions – James Andrew 45 shots/7 goals 84.44%
Chelmsford – Sonny Phillips 36 shots/3 goals 91.67%
The Lions will look to end their skid with a derby win roday (02/10) at Haringey.