The Lee Valley Lions went down to a 10-2 defeat against the Romford Raiders 2’s in their last home game of the NIHL South 2 season.
The Lions got a brace of goals from Czech forward Tom Hnilica, but didn’t have much else to cheer about on a tough Sunday night.
First Period: In the early stages, the Raiders raced out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Brandon Webster and Samuel Austin, before Hnilica (9:33) cut the deficit to 2-1 with a powerplay goal for the Lions in the 10th minute. Assists on the Lions goal came from Joe Berry and Dexter Crawford.
That assist for veteran forward Berry meant that he reached career best tallies for assists (16) and points (25) in a single season for the Lions, in his 11th season for the club.
There was to be no more scoring in the first period, with both James Andrew in the Lions net and Brad Windebank between the pipes for the Raiders making some great saves to keep the score low.
Second Period: The middle period started off tightly, with neither side able to solve the riddle of the opposing netminder in the early stages. That changed in the 26th minute as Tommy Huggett put the Raiders 3-1 in front.
And the Lions then proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot in the 32nd minute, conceding two goals whilst on the powerplay; Webster and George Gell doing the damage to put the Raiders 5-1 up.
The home side did hit back in the 38th minute however, Hnilica (37:07) scoring his second of the game with an assist coming from Oliver Glover.
It was Hnilica’s 20th goal of the season – the first Lion to reach this landmark since Blair Dubyk and Scott Beeson both achieved the feat eight seasons ago.
Third Period: The final period was rather stop-start, with numerous penalties disrupting the flow of the game. Lions player-coach James Joseph and Raiders defenceman Stevie Dunnage dropped the gloves in the 46th minute and each received four penalty minutes for fighting.
As has so often been the case this season, the Lions tired late on in the game and conceded a number of late goals, giving the scoreline a rather one-sided look. In this case, they shipped five goals in the last 16 minutes of the game, with Ewan Hill (twice), Jake Hall, Huggett and Gell all on target for the Raiders.
At the other end, Windebank continued to put in a strong performance in the Raiders net, with the Lions unable to score a goal in the third period.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Lions went down 10-2 in their last home game of the season, having been out-shot 59-27 by the visiting Raiders.
Man of the Match for the Lions was double goal scorer Hnilica, while Raiders netminder Windebank took home the same award for his side.
The Lions have one game left this season, as they face the Bristol Pitbulls away from home on Saturday 6th April. Faceoff at Oxford Ice Rink will be at 5pm.
Final Score: Lee Valley Lions 2-10 Romford Raiders 2
Period Scores: 1-2/1-3/0-5
Shots: Lee Valley 27-59 Romford (7-17/13-21/7-21)
Penalty Minutes: Lee Valley 18-16 Romford
Scorers: Lee Valley – Tom Hnilica 2+0, Dexter Crawford 0+1, Joe Berry 0+1, Oliver Glover 0+1
Romford – Brandon Webster 2+4, George Gell 2+2, Tommy Huggett 2+2, Ewan Hill 2+1, Sam Roberts 0+3, Samuel Austin 1+0, Jake Hall 1+0, Matt Brown 0+1, Ellie Wakeling 0+1
Goaltenders: Lee Valley – James Andrew (60:00 played, 59 shots/10 goals against)
Romford – Bradley Windebank (60:00 played, 27 shots/2 goals against)
Man of the Match – Tom Hnilica (Lee Valley), Bradley Windebank (Romford)