Special Teams Cost Lions in Cup Defeat

The Lee Valley Lions kicked off their NIHL South 2 Cup campaign on Saturday with a tight 6-3 home defeat to the Invicta Mustangs.

The score had been locked at 3-3 heading into the final ten minutes of the game, before the Mustangs scored both a 5-on-3 powerplay goal, and a shorthanded goal, to seal the two points.

The Lions will play six Cup games this season – two each against Invicta, Haringey and Bristol – in addition to their 20 league games. The first of those Cup fixtures looked like being a tasty one, as the Lions welcomed an Invicta side against whom they usually have close games – and this one would prove to be no different.

First Period: Lee Valley, who handed a debut to forward Robert Cole, started the game off well and created a couple of early chances, most notably through Joe Miller who combined well with Leonie Charles and Tyrone Wells in the build-up.

It was Invicta who struck first however, as Jake Luton buried the puck past Lions netminder James Andrew in the eighth minute to put the Kent side 1-0 up. And they soon followed that up with a second goal through Harry Blake, making it 2-0 to the Mustangs with just over 10 minutes gone.

Invicta then let poor discipline get the better of them in the remainder of the first period, taking four minor penalties – but the Lions powerplay was not able to convert any of them, with Jordan Ho coming closest to scoring for the East London side as he pinged a shot off the post.

The first period ended with the Mustangs 2-0 up, despite being outshot 12-9 by the home side.

Second Period: The Lions came out of the interval fired up and looking to get back into the game in the second period. The hosts dominated possession and created several chances, with both Miller and Ben Margerison coming close, before the Lions finally scored their first goal of the night as Joe Berry netted in the 30th minute after a stretch pass from Lewis Blore.

This cut the deficit to 1-2, and the Lions tied the game up at 2-2 later in the period thanks to another breakaway goal, this time by Jordan Ho after a pass from Simon Jones.

The home side then had several chances to take the lead, with both Leonie Charles and Jordan Ho being denied by an on-form Matthew Passmore in the Mustangs net and the score remained 2-2 going into the intermission. At the other end of the ice, Lions goalie James Andrew was also on good form as he stopped all 15 shots he faced in the second period.

Third Period: Early in the third period, Lions defenceman Richie Pickering took a slashing penalty, and this gave the Mustangs a chance on the powerplay – which they duly converted through Luton who grabbed his second of the night.

The Lions didn’t let their heads drop though, tying the score at 3-3 just 46 seconds later as player-coach James Joseph fed Berry for his second goal of the evening.

It was only in the last ten minutes that the Lions lost the game, and they had special teams to blame for that. Firstly both Tyrone Wells and James O’Brien took penalties for the Lions, gifting the Mustangs with a 5-on-3 powerplay which they duly converted through Kevin Lake to make it 4-3.

The Lions then had a 5-on-3 powerplay of their own not long afterwards, as Regan O’Neil sat two minutes for interference and Lake was tossed from the game from checking from behind. But rather than capitalise on it, the Lions instead conceded a goal as O’Neil, fresh out the penalty box after his two minutes had expired, raced into the Lions zone and finished past Andrew to make the score 5-3.

The Mustangs then seemingly put the icing on the cake in the 57th minute as Aaron Ferris made it 6-3 – but the Lions still tried their best to fight back into the game, with Ross Sin-Hidge, Richie Pickering and Jordan Ho all having chances.

However, it was not to be, with the final buzzer sounding and the Lions going down 6-3, in a game they could have won had they not conceded two powerplay goals and one shorthander.

The Lions face the same opponent next Saturday 12th October away from home, also in a Cup game. Faceoff in Gillingham will be at 17:15.

Lions Take First Point From Double Header Weekend

The Lee Valley Lions took their first point of the season in Bracknell on Saturday, losing a tight game against the Wasps in a penalty shootout after 65 minutes of hockey couldn’t separate the two sides.

Sunday’s home game against the league-leading Haringey Huskies didn’t go so well, as the Lions fell to a 14-1 defeat in their second game in as many days.

Saturday in Bracknell

First Period: In Bracknell on Saturday, the Lions slipped to a 3-0 deficit after only 14 minutes of play as the Wasps struck thrice through Casey Cornwall, Oliver Reeves and Scott Anda. The score would remain this way until the first intermission, with the Lions looking to get back into the game in the second period.

Second Period: And they definitely managed to achieve this goal, impressively bringing the game back to 3-3 by the end of the second frame.

Forward Ross Sin-Hidge (24:48, assisted Jordan Sullivan and James Joseph), playing his first Lions game in over a year after spending last season at Haringey, was the first to strike as he got the score back to 1-3 in the 25th minute, before Joe Miller (25:25, assisted Richie Pickering and Charlie Nichols) struck just 37 seconds later to narrow it further to 2-3.

The Lions then went on the powerplay in the 39th minute, and it was Hong Kong international forward Jordan Ho (38:31, assisted Sin-Hidge) who scored the game-tying goal, making the scoreline 3-3 at the end of two periods.

The Lions were also helped by some outstanding saves from netminder James Andrew, who faced 14 shots in the second period without conceding.

Third Period: Things would get even better for the Lions in the eighth minute of the third period as Ho (47:38, assisted Sullivan and Lewis Blore) struck again for his second goal of the game, again on the powerplay, to put the East London side 4-3 up.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Joshua Sherrington equalised for the Wasps a minute later, also on the powerplay.

There was to be no more scoring in regulation time, so the Lions secured a point heading into five minutes of overtime. There were also no goals in overtime, so penalty shots would determine the winner of the game – and it was the Wasps who came out on top, taking the extra point and winning the game 5-4.

Sunday vs Haringey

The Lions went into their second game in as many days on Sunday, welcoming league leaders Haringey to Lee Valley Ice Centre.

First Period: The Huskies showed their quality in the first period, racing into a 5-0 lead thanks to goals from James Pentecost, Matthew Hepburn, Stephen Woodford, Stuart Appleby and Mark Robinson.

Second Period: As the game wore on, the Lions became visibly more tired as their fresher opponents turned on the style and led 10-0 after the second period. Goals in the second frame for the Huskies came through Pentecost, Appleby, Woodford, Luke Martin-Digby and Liam Watson.

Third Period: The Huskies took an 11-0 lead early in the third period as Joseph Willingham scored a shorthanded marker, before Joe Berry (46:47, assisted Ho and Sin-Hidge) finally gave the Lions fans something to cheer about in the 47th minute, batting the puck out of the air baseball style to score a powerplay goal, with assists coming from Jordan Ho and Ross Sin-Hidge.

But the ruthless Huskies weren’t done there, as they added three more goals before the end of the game – Woodford, Pentecost and Lee Mercer completing the scoring.

It was very much a weekend of two halves for the Lions – with an impressive display on Saturday leading to their first point of the season, before being brought back down to earth by Haringey on Sunday.

The Lions are in Cup action this upcoming Saturday 5th October, as they welcome the Invicta Mustangs to Lee Valley Ice Centre. Faceoff will be at 17:30.

It was a hard-fought weekend for the Lions, playing two games in as many days and picking up their first point of the season (Photo: Phil Hutchinson)

Lions Downed by Hawks in Season Opener

After a long off-season of more than five months, the Lee Valley Lions finally kicked off the new National Ice Hockey League South 2 campaign with a home game against the Streatham Hawks.

The Lions were beaten on the night, but the end scoreline of 9-2 is not fully reflective of the game as a whole, and there were plenty of positives for the Lions coaching staff to take away from the opening game of the season.

The East London side iced 14 skaters for the game as well as netminder James Andrew, with eight players making their Lions debut. Five of the players on show for the Lions were born in 2001, giving the team a very youthful feel.

First Period: Streatham came out well in the early stages of the game and put the Lions under pressure, but found Andrew in good form in the Lee Valley net. The Hawks then let themselves down with ill-discipline, taking several penalties which disrupted their momentum in the game.

The Hawks nonetheless took the lead just after the midway point of the first period, Ryan Burgess scoring a 4-on-3 powerplay goal to put them 1-0 up at 11:02. Streatham then followed that up with another goal six minutes later, Czech forward Kamil Kinkor slotting the puck past Andrew with a precise shot at the 17:07 mark.

Lee Valley created a lot of chances towards the end of the period, with Joe Miller and newcomer Lewis Blore both testing Hawks netminder Harry Buckingham, but the Lions couldn’t quite get the puck in the net and ended the first period 2-0 down.

Second Period: The Lions came out extremely well at the start of the second period, with Hong Kong international forward Jordan Ho having a couple of chances to score and Ben Margerison also coming close.

They were finally awarded for their persistence at the 29:23 mark, as Jordan Ho scored a powerplay goal to halve Streatham’s lead, and bring the Lions back into the game at 1-2 down.

Unfortunately for the Lions, towering defenceman Daniel Tamasauskas then headed to the box for checking to the head, and Streatham’s Czech sharpshooter Kinkor punished them for that as he buried a powerplay goal to put the Hawks 3-1 up, a score that would remain until the end of the second period.

This was despite more Lions chances for Miller, Blore and Ho, who all impressed for the East London side but couldn’t quite solve the riddle of Buckingham more than once in the second frame.

Third Period: The Lions came out very slowly at the start of the third period, and were made to pay twice as Kinkor scored two more goals on the night with precise shots, putting the South Londoners into a seemingly unassailable 5-1 lead.

But the Lions didn’t let their heads dropped, and managed to get themselves back into the game in the 49th minute as Jordan Ho scored his second goal of the night with an assist from fellow newcomer Ben Margerison, to give the Lions hope at 5-2 down.

However the Lions seemed to tire in the closing stages, shipping four goals in the final seven minutes to give the scoreline a rather ugly feel; Alec Goldstone, Leo Saoncella, Harry Sage and former Lion Gus Zimmerman each had a goal to complete the scoring for the night.

It was a disappointing end to the game for the Lions, but they can take pride in the way they played in the first 40 minutes – and will feel they have unearthed a gem of a player in Jordan Ho, who scored both of his club’s goals on debut and was awarded Man of the Match for his efforts.

The Lions are next in action over the weekend of the 28th and 29th of September, travelling to Bracknell on the Saturday before hosting another London derby on the Sunday as Haringey come to town.

Lions Sign Leonie Charles

The Lions have added another forward ahead of the start of the 2019-20 season, as Leonie Charles signs up.

Leonie will become the first female forward to play for the Lions since GB Women’s international Angela Taylor scored 17 points in 14 games for the club in the 2009-10 season.

18-year-old Leonie has spent the last two years with the Invicta U18s, splitting her time between the U18 2nd and 3rd divisions. Last season she captained the Invicta Broncos in the 3rd division, whilst also appearing nine times for the Invicta Colts in the 2nd division.

In parallel to that, she played in the Women’s Division 1 South for the Invicta Dynamics in 2017-18, before making the step up to the Women’s Elite League with the Guildford Lightning last season.

Now she joins up with the Lions for her first season of NIHL hockey.

Click here to view Leonie’s career statistics courtesy of eliteprospects.com.

Two More for Lions as Sullivan Stays and Ferrara Joins

The Lee Valley Lions can today announce two more forwards for the 2019-20 season, as Jordan Sullivan stays with the club while Vincenzo “Vinnie” Ferrara joins the East London side.

23-year-old Jordan Sullivan made his senior bow for the Lions last season following four years at university.

Jordan had previously been a Lee Valley Junior between 2004 and 2014.

The power forward scored one assist in 21 games last term, and will look to add to that tally this time around as he returns for his second league season at the Den.

Versatile 27-year-old Vinnie Ferrara, who can also play as a defenceman, came through the junior system at Peterborough. He then played 17 games for the Peterborough Islanders in the ENL (now NIHL) between 2008 and 2011, scoring two goals and four assists.

He followed that up with three seasons in BUIHA (British Universities Ice Hockey Association) competition with the Coventry and Warwick Panthers, tallying seven goals and nine assists in 16 games, before taking a break from the sport.

Vinnie now joins the Lions ahead of the new campaign, and will hope to help the East London side with his experience and versatility.

Click here to view Jordan’s career statistics on eliteprospects.com.
Click here to view Vinnie’s career statistics on eliteprospects.com.

Jordan Sullivan returns for his second senior season at the Den (Photo: Tori Rigby)