The Widnes Wild women’s team put in a brave and thrilling performance in front of an enthusiastic and sizeable crowd before eventually succumbing 3-9 to league leaders Nottingham Vipers at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The Wild women had lost 11-2 away to Nottingham back in October and, with them icing a largely inexperienced development line-up this season, this match would have marked down as an away win on most people’s pools coupons prior to the game.
The Vipers took the lead after just 15 seconds of play but, demonstrating how far they have come in such a short space of time – with many of the Widnes players on the ice never having played a competitive game before this season – the Wild womens’ heads did not drop and they immediately fought back.
Sav Sumner fired in an equalising goal in the 6th minute and then, after a tense and entertaining spell of end to end action, Widnes took the lead through team captain Emma Pearson on 16 minutes. This was, in fact, the first time that the Widnes team had taken the lead in any league game this season so far and the score remained 2-1 at the first period break.
The score was still 2-1 10 minutes into the second period and the Wild women looked confident on the puck and were having lots of possession.
But then on 33 minutes, Nottingham’s Canadian born player Robin Mullen scored her second goal of the game to tie the score. Two more goals late in the period – from Madison Wright and a hat trick strike from Mullen – turned the game on its head and the score stood at 2-4 after two periods of play.
Widnes hopes were raised once again with a great goal from Danielle Skilander to halve the deficit on 45 minutes but Nottingham’s Jessica Urquhart scored just 3 minutes later and two more goals from Robin Mullen put the Vipers firmly in control.
The game was held up for a few minutes while Wild netminder Stephanie Drinkwater needed treatment on the ice after a collision but she bravely got up and played on for the remaining 10 minutes or so during which time Nottingham struck again to round off the scoring at 3-9.
Despite the eventual scoreline, this was a really good display from the Wild women who showed character and courage throughout against considerably stronger opposition and will undoubtedly continue to make progress as the season goes on.
The Sarah Macnaughtan Memorial awards for most Most Valuable Player went to Laura Marcroft for Widnes and Alice Haddleton for Nottingham and were presented by the Wild’s Poet in Residence Lucy London.
After the game Wild women’s player coach Amanda Williams said:
“Overall, I was really pleased with how the game went. This was the first time we’ve met a team for the second time this season, so it was always going to be interesting to see how we’ve progressed since early in the season.”
“We were immediately a goal behind in the first period before the girls switched on but, to their credit, they focussed and deservedly took the lead through 2 great finishes from Sav and Emma. The 2nd period remained close, but we got caught out by a couple of stretch passes and were punished on the breakaway. It’s all part of the learning curve. In regular play, our lines weren’t too badly matched.”
“Unfortunately the score was racked up a bit in the 3rd. We got tired and left Steph (who was injured with 10mins left in the game) vulnerable to further one on one chances. All in all, it was an enjoyable game and good to see training is paying off.”
The Wild women are next in action on Sunday 10th February when they entertain the Chelmsford Cobras in the Women’s Premier League at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off.
MATCH DETAILS: Sunday 20th January 2019 – Women’s Premier League
Widnes Wild Women 3 – Nottingham Vipers 9
Period Scores: 2-1, 0-3, 1-5
Shots on Goal: Widnes 17 – Nottingham 75 (4-25, 10-21, 3-29)
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 4 – Nottingham 16
Widnes Scoring: Emma Pearson 1+1, Sav Sumner 1+1, Danielle Skilander 1+0
Match Officials: Scott Anstey / Craig Williams
MVPs: Widnes – Laura Marcroft / Nottingham – Alice Haddleton
Report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk
Photos by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com