Phil Pearson (#30) and Danial Fay (#18) in action for the Wild (Photo by Geoff White / Gw-Images.com)
Sunday 5th January: Deeside Dragons 2 – YKK Widnes Wild 7 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild gave their hopes of retaining the Laidler Division title that they won last season a huge boost with a 2 – 7 win away to local rivals Deeside Dragons on Sunday
The match was very close in its opening stages and, although Widnes out-shot the Dragons by 11 – 5 in the first period, it was Deeside who took the lead in the tenth minute. Widnes equalised with just 27 seconds to go in the period,with a goal from M.J. Clancy – playing against his former club – and the game was evenly balanced at 1 – 1 at the first break.
Things started to get heated in the second period, with Deeside picking up needless penalties. The Wild punished these transgressions with powerplay goals from Jakub Hajek and Michal Novak and it looked likely that they would pull away at this point.
Matches between these two teams are always very passionate affairs, due to their relatively close proximity and the regular interchange of players over the years, and this game was a particularly bruising encounter. The Dragons adopted intimidatory tactics throughout the game and things came to a head in the 32nd minute when a huge melee took place, which saw the Wild’s Tom Jackson and Charlie Ratcliffe sent to the penalty box with minor penalties for fighting and five Dragons players banished for fighting and other misconduct calls for “boarding” and “Abuse of a Match Official”.
In the aftermath of this, Widnes edged further ahead with a powerplay goal from Shaun Dippnall. Deeside scored their second goal of the game with three minutes left to go in the second period, leaving the score at 2 – 4 for the Wild – with plenty of work still to do.
A second goal from Shaun Dippnall four minutes into the third period effectively sealed the game for the Wild and powerplay goals from Bez Hughes and a hat-trick strike from Dippnall merely served to punish more Deeside mischief as more major penalties were handed out to the hosts in the closing minutes for more fighting.
In total this game generated an alarming 124 penalty minutes – but only 16 of these went to Wild players, who kept their heads and refused to be provoked by the Dragons’ aggressive tactics.
The 2 – 7 win avenges the Wild’s 2 – 4 home defeat at the hands of the Dragons in Widnes back in early December and gives them a narrow advantage in terms of bragging rights between the two sides for the season.
The resulting 2 points see the Wild move up into sixth place in the Laidler Division table, with 15 points from their 11 League games so far. They have games in hand over all the other teams in the division and will be hoping to significantly improve their position once they have caught up in terms of matches played.
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild are away to Sheffield Senators this Saturday, 11th January – 7.30 pm face off – before their next home game against the Senators on Sunday 12th January at Planet Ice Widnes. Face off is at 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.