As the Christmas break approaches the Lions travel to Hull to play their last game of 2015.
Up to this point in the season the Lions have achieved more than might have been expected as new young players moved up into the slots opened up as some of the more experienced players moved on. An important nucleus of experienced players remained along with the coaching team and remarkable things have happened.
As teams in the Laidler Conference, who could afford to, massively strengthened and the front runners became very obvious with Deeside Dragons bolstered by Red Hockey leading the pack closely followed by Widnes Wild. Altrincham Aces who had just moved down from the Moralee Conference and seeking a quick return also looked to be building a team capable of challenging for honours.
Into this mix came the other teams given little hope of denting the big boys but how wrong was that as the Lions beat the Wild, the Dragons, and the Aces although revenge inevitably followed as we saw last Sunday when the Deeside Dragons achieved a strong win at the National Ice Centre. Up to this point in the season honours are now even between the three promotion candidates and the Lions with one win apiece and with more ice hockey to come in 2016.
Against the Deeside Dragons the Lions played a solid game and the shots on goal were pretty even 38 to 40 in total but it was obviously the conversion rate that made a massive difference to how the game played out. Tom Hovell had a tough old night and at 30 minutes into the game and 6 goals against he made way for Samantha Bolwell to grab 29+ valuable minutes and with only the one goal against, I feel certain she was one happy netminder. Samantha who is a GB Womens Team member has made a couple of brief appearances since joining the Lions and looked to be relishing the opportunity of the extra ice time at a critical time in the game against the top of the Conference Dragons.
It was good to see the veteran Stuart Parker out there again and helping to steady the team whilst also grabbing his first assist in support of the Lions only goal scored by Slav Kasprzak.
The game at Hull will be another tough challenge following on from last Sunday as they have run the Lions close in both of their games this season. Hull Jets tied the game up at Hull and only lost out by a couple of goals when they visited Nottingham.
Hull Jets are another team using a significant number of home grown players and along with Nottingham’s Junior System and the Lions Academy look to player development as a priority for both clubs.
The Jets v Lions games are always fast moving and a little on the feisty side so should prove a good one for the spectators.