Fox hunts down Jets for Lee Valley Lions
- Credit: Archant
National League Div 2: Slough Jets 3 Lee Valley Lions 4
Chris Fox’s hat-trick led Lee Valley Lions to their fourth win of the season as they held off the Jets at the Hangar.
Lee Valley netminder James Tipple faced 52 shots and Joseph Berry added a late goal for the visitors as they picked up their first win since defeating the Jets in east London on December 6.
And the victory allowed Lee Valley to move past Slough into fourth place in the league table.
The first period was quiet for both teams with few stoppages and no penalties, but Slough were the dominant side.
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Nathan Darmanin had an excellent chance for the hosts early on, hustling into the offensive zone to chase down the puck for a breakaway, but he mishandled the puck as he swept in front of the net and could not get a shot off.
Slough found a breakthrough in the 13th minute when, after a scramble in front of the net, the puck came to Liam Underdown and he flipped it up over the left shoulder of Tipple.
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Underdown had two more chances late in the period, but his first shot was saved by Tipple, before the puck was promptly sent back out to him in the right face-off circle. This time his attempt was blocked by a Lee Valley defenceman.
Slough’s Rob Johnston gained possession and took a shot, but Tipple deflected the puck over the net and the first period ended with Slough 1-0 up.
The Jets had two shots on goal within the first minute of the second period, before Lee Valley had a 2-on-1 chance.
But a Slough defenceman dropped down between the players and the pass went wide.
A few minutes later, Lee Valley’s Matthew Hepburn missed an open-net opportunity to level the match.
Slough goalie Simon Johnston had to dive forward out of his crease to stab away the puck with his stick and before he could get back in between the pipes, Hepburn had a wide open right side of the net in front of him. But he rushed the shot and missed.
Lions finally found an equaliser in the 29th minute when Nicholas Alley and Ben Duffy sent the puck up the ice to Fox, who skated over the blue line and took a slap shot that slipped in under Johnston.
Slough had two men in the penalty box midway through the period, but Lee Valley could not capitalise, yet after the Jets returned to full strength, the Lions did find a second goal.
The Jets held the puck behind their net as they look to start an offensive push, but then a long pass up the ice was met by Lee Valley at the blue line and the Lions rushed back down the ice and Fox wristed in his second goal from the right circle, assisted by Duffy and Allen.
Underdown was called for a penalty late in the period and Lee Valley still had the man advantage to start the final period.
And the Lions got off to a perfect start, as Fox scored an insurance goal just 20 seconds after the restart, securing his hat-trick and the man of the match award.
Lee Valley needed the cushion too, as Slough were back on the scoreboard with just under 10 minutes remaining when Erik Knizat found the back of the net, assisted by Jamie Joyce and Ashley West.
For the next few minutes, Slough fired shot after shot at Tipple in a desperate attempt to draw level. But Tipple held firm, and to the home fans’ dismay, the Lions put themselves ahead by two goals again.
Berry was given the puck in front of the net and punched it in through traffic to make the score 4-2.
But just 34 seconds later, Slough drew to within one again when Adam Harris took a shot and beat Tipple with 4.35 remaining.
Slough continued to fight for the equaliser, but Tipple was firm as he stopped 25 shots in the period.
The Jets missed a trick by not pulling Johnston from their net in favour of an extra attacker in the final minute and Lee Valley hung on for a scintillating away win.
Lee Valley visit leaders Chelmsford Warriors next Saturday and then travel to Basingstoke the following evening to play the Buffalo.