For the second time in a fortnight, Wild had to travel to the league leaders. Both sides were without key players, injured veteran Richard Charles missing for Widnes and leading forward Chris Jones for the Dragons.
Both sides had recruited since the last meeting, the outstanding Jordan Bannon joining Deeside and big defenceman, 6 foot 4 inch Tony Melbourne joining Widnes. Widnes also iced Defenceman Dan Etherington and tricky forward Andy Clark both former Fylde Flyers, for the first time this season. Hopes were high in the Widnes camp following the recent close defeat in Queensferry.
A good sized contingent of Widnes fans saw the Wild take to the ice in their black away strip. After an evenly contested opening spell, the game burst into life with the home side seizing the initiative with two goals in the 9th minute. MVP Marc Lovell opened the scoring with Simon Furnival adding a second. Bobby Caunce brought the visitors back into contention, with the first of his four goals in the 17th minute. The visitors pressed for an equaliser as the first period ended.
The second period was only seconds old when the Dragons fire saw Swedish import Dan Anderson extend the lead to 3-1. Widnes hit back almost immediately when Andrew Clarke set up Bobby Caunce. A burst of scoring saw both sides dominant but Widnes drew level at 5-5 in the 31st minute thanks to Bobby Caunce’s fourth goal. Inside a minute, Deeside led 6-5 with a second goal from Shaun Kippin. Two goals inside a minute from Jones and Bannon saw the Welshmen comfortably ahead at the end of the second period.
Deeside were visibly tiring but their experienced line up still managed to control possession and the pace of the game. However it was Widnes who scored next through Filip Supa.. Peter Gazda then restored the Dragons lead before Supa fired home his second for the Wild. With Widnes controlling possession in the Deeside end it was surprising that few shots were fired at Matt Compton in the Dragons net. With the final minute ticking down, it came as no surprise when Shaun Kippin sent Simon Furnival away for a Dragons breakaway goal.
It was a question of so near and yet so far for the Widnes players, who despite scoring seven goals, struggled to defend their own net. They failed to seize the initiative at key times and allowed the Dragons to impose their own pattern on the game. MVP for the Wild was Bobby Caunce.
Coach, Mark Gillingham was frustrated with the final result;
“To score seven goals against the league leaders and to not win the game is hard to take. The players are despondent but we will work on defensive plays during the next fortnight”
Team manager Mick Caunce added;
“The lads played well and never gave up even when two or more goals down”
Not the start to the season we wanted but we have plenty to build on and Mark will work on the team over the next couple of training sessions before we travel to Sheffield
Widnes travel to meet Sheffield Senators at Ice Sheffield – 7.30 face off – on Saturday 5th October.