Lee Valley picked up their first win of the season, and the their first since 2012 with a victory over the Wightlink Tigers.
Missing Gennadi Yufit, Max Gerstein, Nick Alley and top goals scorer Theo Abban the Lions were still feeling confident after last weeks draw in Cardiff. Defenceman Romanas Fedotovas up to wing, playing on a line with Richard Hodge and James Hepburn to start the game.
First Period: The game couldn’t have started much worse for the hosts. It only took 50 seconds for the Tigers to go in front, with the Lions caught napping at neutral ice allowing Shaun Harris to send Andrew Robinson off down the wing, slotting in as James Gosling covered the 2-on-1. The Tigers’ celebrations were short lived though as the new line of Hepburn, Hodge and Fedotovas gelled quickly, Hodge setting the Lithuanian Junior International up to equalise (3:08). The game went back and forth but this line continued to threaten and it wasn’t long before Hodge received a return gift from his line mate, another quick break saw the pair link up again to take the lead (5:57). The visitors weren’t going away though, just as Lee Valley thought they had a foothold on the match, another mid-ice turnover left Gosling and Mallet exposed again with Joseph Denness (8:45, unassisted) counter attacking on a Lions powerplay to tie things up. It didn’t end there; Hodge sent Fedotovas in again before he faked a slapshot and rounded Tigers’ goalie Aaron Craft to put the Lions up by one (10:03). The frustrations were starting to come to a boil; when a few off the puck incidents went un-called, Fedotovas and Wightlink’s Graham MacFarlane got involved in a skirmish the led to a whole line brawl in one corner of the rink. The resulting penalties saw the two thrown out of the game for roughing and other misconduct penalties, the Lions feeling hard done by as a result of the calls. The period wasn’t as exciting after that and ended 3-2 to the Lions.
Second Period: After all the back and forth play of the first, the second was a much tighter affair defensively, with both teams exchanging periods of dominance. Wightlink were first to strike this time, when the Lions thought the hosts had played themselves offside, play continued and Jamie Lee (28:39, assist Edwards) took advantage of a scramble to score on a sprawled Mallet. This spurred the hosts on and the continued to create chances. Calum Heath missed a couple of in the slot and Under 18 Jarvis Mewett lost the puck at his feet as he was tied up in front of net. The breakthrough finally came as James Hepburn (39:05, assist Hatfull) sped down the ice and deked in and out of the Tigers’ defence before rounding Craft to get the go-ahead goal. Ashlee Cave then went close with a deflection on the buzzer, ending the period 4-3 to the Lions.
Third Period: Whilst the Lions were beginning to get a firm grip on proceedings, they couldn’t find the killer touch needed to put the Tigers away. Hepburn went close, a deflected shot ringing off the post. This lack of scoring touch in front of net was almost costly, as with less than three minutes left, Lewis Tribble (57:03, assist Wyatt) took advantage of sloppy play in the Lions’ defensive zone. The hosts must have thought they were in for another late collapse until the refs called Robinson for a hit on Cave, who was then jumped by Tribble. Both received penalty calls at 58:20 to give Lee Valley the 5-on-3 advantage. With the crowd on their feet, Ben Osborne won the face-off and the puck was picked up by Joseph Berry, whose shot deflected slightly, passing above Craft’s arm and into the back of the net (58:34), sending the Lions’ bench and their supporters wild. It wasn’t all over; Osborne missed a chance to kill the game off as Craft just managed to hold the puck underneath him and the Tigers had one more attempt to tie the match but it was Lee Valley who finally came good. Their first win in two seasons, lifting them to 5th in the league table.
Period Scores: Lee Valley 3-2/1-1/1-1 Wightlink
Shots on Goal: on Mallet (LV) 45, on Craft (WT) 37
Penalties in Minutes: Lee Valley 37-42 WIghtlink
Top scorers: Lee Valley – Fedotovas (2+1), Hodge (1+2) and Hatfull (0+2). Wightlink – Robinson, Deness, Lee & Tribble (all 1+0) and Harris, Edwards, Wyatt & Gutteridge (all 0+1)Man of the Match: Lee Valley – James Hepburn, Wightlink – Lewis Tribble
Photos from the game, courtesy of Patrick Ayling, can be found here.