Don McDermott reports as the Lee Valley Lions shocked the Slough Jets 5-3 on Saturday evening at the Hangar in Slough for their first victory of the young season.
Away against the Jets, Lions captain Nick Alley scored two goals and goalie James Andrew produced some breathtaking saves late in the game to secure the Lions their first win over a lacklustre Jets side.
Although Lee Valley dominated for much of the match, the Jets did have a few moments where they looked like a cohesive unit, including the early stages of the match when they took their only lead of the contest.
Ashley West puts Slough on the board in the eighth minute, slapping in the puck from right in front of the net while toppling over backwards.
But just a few minutes later, the Jets turned the puck over deep in their defensive zone and Alley capitalized on the mistake to draw the match level.
Then off the restart, Lee Valley moved straight back down the ice and James Hepburn scored to give the Lions a lead they would never relinquish.
Lee Valley continued to apply the pressure for the rest of the first period, nearly adding a third goal after returning from a penalty kill. The new man on the ice slipped past the Slough defence and raced down for a breakaway, but Slough netminder Rob Warrington made the stop to keep the score 2-1 at the end of the first.
Five minutes into the second period, the Lions did extend their lead with another flurry of goals. During a scramble in front of the goal, the puck came to Simon Geldart and he expertly flipped it into the back of the net backhanded.
Twenty-five seconds after, Alley scored his second of the match to give the Lions a 4-1 lead and force Slough to pull Warrington in favour of Chris Douglas.
The change breathed new life into the Jets as they suddenly began to put the Lions under pressure. Kirk Evans scored in the 29th minute to get Slough back on the scoreboard and then Luke Martin-Digby wristed a shot into the goal from the face-off circle to cut Lee Valley’s lead to 4-3.
But again, Slough’s surge of dominance was shortlived as Christopher Hocquigby was penalized for slashing and Oliver Glover scored on the power play to restore the Lions’ two-goal advantage.
The rest of the match was highlighted by two stellar saves by Andrew to keep the Lions ahead. Near the end of the second period, a hard shot fired in from the left struck Andrew on his right pad and bounced up over his left shoulder.
But Andrew reached back with a lightning-quick reflex and snatched the puck out of mid-air just before it crossed the goal line.
Then just minutes into the third frame of play, Andrew produced another show-stopping save. Evans came down the ice with just one defender to beat and decided to knock the puck ahead down the ice and chase it down. Evans nearly pulled off the trick, beating the Lions defender, but Andrew daringly rushed out of the net to stab the puck away.
That was the final surge for Slough as Lee Valley took control of the rest of the match and ran out the clock to walk away from the Hangar with the full two points.