Tom Jackson (#84) scored the Wild’s second goal at Deeside on Sunday (Photo by Geoff White)
Sunday 15th March: Deeside Dragons 3 – YKK Widnes Wild 2 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild missed out on the opportunity to move up into second place in the Laidler Division table and narrow the gap behind league leaders Hull Jets with a disappointing 3 – 2 defeat away to local rivals Deeside Dragons on Sunday.
With the top two teams in the Division – Hull and Altrincham Aces – both losing on Saturday night, this represented a great opportunity for the Wild team to extend their impressive eight game winning run and set up a nail-biting close to the Laidler Division season. Sixth place Dragons had other ideas, however, and it was they who had beat Altrincham the night before and were keen to finish their own season on a high. Relative league positions and recent form tend to count for nothing in local derby games such as this, and this was clearly evidenced in the game on Sunday.
Both teams adopted defensive positions – keen to give nothing away – and it took until the tenth minute for the first break through, when Dragons’ captain James Parsons fired the home side into the lead. After a lot of back and forth and exciting derby hockey, Matt Tarpey finally put Widnes level with just 34 seconds left in the period and the score remained 1 – 1 at the first break.
Deeside re-took the lead five minutes into the second period and Widnes responded with a fine strike from Tom Jackson just 60 seconds later. The game remained very close and no further scoring meant that it was all square at 2 – 2 at the second break.
After two fairly even periods in terms of possession and shots on goal, Widnes managed to up the pressure and outshot Deeside by 16 to 6 in the third period. Dragons’ net minder, Mike Rogers, who had previously played recreational hockey for the Widnes based Riverside Raiders, and who only started the season as back-up net minder to the injured Women’s GB netminder Samantha Bolwell, put in a superb performance at keeping them at bay.
The atmosphere around the North Wales rink was terrific – with a sizeable away following having travelled along the M56 from Widnes to cheer the Wild on.
However, the next goal, when it finally came, was somewhat against the run of play and fell once again to the Dragons’ captain James Parsons to complete his hat-trick with less than five minutes left on the clock. Try as they might, the Wild players valiantly attempted to push for a late equaliser but nothing came of this and the game ended in a 3 -–2 defeat.
The result sees the Wild remain in third place in the Laidler Division table with three games left to play. They are away at Telford this Saturday, at home to Blackburn this Sunday and then have a tantalising last-day-of-the-season game against league leaders Hull Jets on 28th March.
Note: with the ever changing national situation regarding sports fixtures and public events, fans are advised to check with an official source before setting out for any matches at the weekend.