The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild took a huge step towards chasing down Laidler Conference leaders Blackburn with a dramatic 1-3 win away over the Eagles on Saturday night.
The game started off following a similar pattern to recent Wild performances with lots of possession but few chances being taken and an early 5 on 3 powerplay being squandered.
After a goalless first period, the breakthrough finally came as the game approached its mid-point. Andrew Turner kept a Blackburn face off clearance inside the blue zone and Stuart Brittle fed a killer pass to player coach Ollie Barron who fired home to give the Wild the lead.
The rest of the period remained goalless and the Eagles began to pick up silly penalties. Their lightning counter-attacks which had proved so successful in the two previous games at Widnes didn’t pay off and Matt Croyle also performed heroics in the Wild goal.
Widnes doubled their lead just 21 seconds after the restart when Stuart Brittle slotted home an Ollie Barron pass and the game was effectively over 3 minutes later when Brittle hit his second – and Wild’s third – goal of the night.
The game became scrappier as the Eagles saw the two points slipping away and things came to a head with an altercation on the boards between Wild’s Kieran Strangeway and Eagles’ Aaron Jordan which drew other players in and, at one point, saw both match officials dumped onto the ice as well. Jordan was given a 2+2+10 penalty, Strangeway 2+2 and Wild’s Tom Ratcliffe a 10 minute misconduct penalty.
Blackburn finally picked up a consolation goal in the 57th minute when the Wild lost possession while pushing for a fourth and former Widnes player Sam Dunford raced the length of the ice to fire past Croyle and deny him what would otherwise have been a well-earned shut out.
After the game, Wild player coach Ollie Barron said:
“This was a big game for us. Our preparation started in practice on Thursday as we knew we were going to be short on numbers going into the game with just two forward lines with 3 blocks of D pairings.
We had a strict game plan which we executed perfectly, and we took our goal scoring chances when we had them. I was so pleased with the team’s togetherness and work ethic on Saturday – it was a much needed win.”
Saturday 3rd December 2016 – Laidler Conference
Blackburn Eagles 1 – Widnes Wild 3
Period Scores: 0-0, 0-1, 1-2
Shots on Goal: Eagles 35 – Widnes 28
Penalties In Minutes: Eagles 60 – Widnes 22
Widnes Scoring: Stuart Brittle 2+1, Ollie Barron 1+1, Andrew Turner & Nick Manning 0+1