After defeat in their first two league games of the season, the Lee Valley Lions were back in action as they hosted league newcomers Guildford Phoenix. The Phoenix were also yet to get off the mark, losing their only game so far, so for both teams this was an opportunity to clinch their first win of the campaign.
Lee Valley welcomed back Daniel Tamasauskas, Robin Young and captain Nick Alley, while 17 year old netminder Brett Shepherd backed up James Andrew. Missing were Michael Crosse, Lee Hounslow and Robyn Maby.
Guildford brought 18 skaters as well as netminder Harry Buckingham. Former Lions players Henry Aiken and Bailey Wootton, and former Lee Valley junior Haydn Wootton, all iced for the Phoenix.
1st Period: The first period got off to a rapid start, with the visitors showing their speed and skill as they peppered James Andrew with shots early. One of those found its way through, Oliver Denis (2:56, assisted Joshua Abbott) getting one past Andrew for 1-0. Guildford had two powerplay opportunities as the period wore on, but couldn’t find a way past the Lions netminder, while the Lions could not convert on a powerplay of their own as they struggled to get into the game. The interplay between Denis and Abbott in particular was strong for the Phoenix, yet they could not score any more goals in the period despite a lot of chances, as the visitors led 1-0 going into the first break.
2nd Period: The second period got off to a bad start for both sides, as a hit from former Lions defenceman Henry Aiken on Ben Duffy left the Lee Valley forward injured and needing to be helped off the ice, while Aiken was handed a 5 + game for boarding. The Lions could not capitalise on the subsequent five minute powerplay, a hooking call on Matt Brown leading to two minutes of four-on-four action and the Phoenix killing the remaining three minutes. Indeed Guildford doubled their advantage with a shorthanded goal with just 15 seconds left in the penalty, former Lions forward Bailey Wootton (27:10, assisted Nick Minhinnick) racing clear after a pass from his captain Minhinnick to slot past James Andrew on the breakaway for 2-0.
Two more Guildford penalties followed as the second period wore on, including some five-on-three powerplay time for the Lions, but Guildford’s penalty kill was up to the task and their young netminder Harry Buckingham made some fantastic saves when called upon, the best of the lot coming as he flashed the leather to deny Simon Geldart on a breakaway. Try as they might, the Lions could not get one past Guildford’s 17 year old keeper as the second period drew to a close, with the visitors 2-0 ahead.
3rd Period: The third period started off quietly, but it all kicked off five minutes in: after a skirmish in front of the Guildford net, Phoenix defenceman Luke Tull received a 5 + game for checking to the head, while Lions forward Matt Brown received 2+2 for fighting and Lee Valley captain Nick Alley was thrown out of the game for third man in. A few minutes later, Lions forward Chris Fox and Guildford’s Bailey Wootton also sat two each for roughing, as the game descended into chaos. On the ice, the Lions still were not able to get sustained pressure on Buckingham in the Guildford net, while his opposite number James Andrew continued to stand tall when called upon, with the score remaining at 2-0.
With just 4:17 left in the game, another Guildford player was ejected from the game; this time it was Michael Krogh who received a 5 + game for checking from behind after a hit that left Matthew Hepburn down on the ice, although Hepburn was able to continue playing. This meant the Lions were on the powerplay for the rest of regulation time, but yet again were thwarted by Guildford’s strong penalty killing and their impressive young netminder. The Lions even had a five-on-three powerplay for the last 13 seconds of the game, but could not convert as they were shut out at home, the Phoenix running out 2-0 winners on the night.
It was a frustrating evening for the Lions as they were shut out in the league for the first time this season, although the continued strong form of netminder James Andrew – last season’s Most Improved Player has picked up right where he left off – is a positive sign. Andrew picked up a deserved Man of the Match award for the Lions, while his opposite number Buckingham took home the award for Guildford after an impressive shutout.
Update on Ben Duffy
After the game, Ben was seen at the Royal London Hospital, where an X-Ray and ICT scan have revealed that Ben has 2 fractures in 2 vertebrae in his lower back (T11 and T12). They are ‘stable’ in that there’s no damage to the ligament or muscles, so the bones won’t move. Ben is already out of hospital and recovering at home, with the aid of a rather fetching brace.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 0-2 Guildford Phoenix
Period Scores: 0-1/0-1/0-0
Shots: Lee Valley 38-76 Guildford (6-30/21-11/11-35)*
Some discrepancies regarding the shots on target recorded.
Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 32-87 Guildford
Scorers: Guildford – Bailey Wootton (1+0), Oliver Denis (1+0), Joshua Abbott (0+1), Nick Minhinnick (0+1)
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 76 shots/2 goals against)
Guildford – Harry Buckingham (60:00 played, 38 shots/0 goals against)
Man of the Match – James Andrew (Lee Valley), Harry Buckingham (Guildford)
The Lions’ next game is away to the Solent Devils on Saturday 7th October. Face off in Hampshire is at 5:00pm