The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild had a smashing time at Bradford on Saturday night with a 3-8 away win in the Laidler Conference that came to an abrupt end before the scheduled end of play.
The game was actually abandoned with just 48.30 played of the regulation 60 minutes after a powerful shot from a Bradford player broke the plexi-glass behind Wild netminder Greg Ruxton’s goal. Three separate panels were damaged and it was decided that it would take too long to replace them and that the game would finish at that point – with Wild leading 3-8.
The Wild were in coasting mode by that point having scored three unanswered goals in the third period so the result was never in any doubt by the time of the enforced stoppage, but the game had been very close earlier on.
After a very tense and close fought start, Widnes took the lead with a great goal from Ken Armstrong but the Bulldogs quickly countered and levelled the scores after just 8 minutes.
Bobby Caunce – recently returned to the Widnes team after a season and a half away with Blackburn – came up with a real gem of goal picking the puck up deep in defence and put the Wild agead 1-2 going into the first break.
The second period saw much of the same with Widnes dominating for long periods of play but Bradford defending solidly and looking dangerous on the counterattack.
Stuart Brittle – who is enjoying his best scoring form of the season at present – edged Widnes a little further ahead only for Bradford to peg them back to 2-3 at the mid-point of the game.
Further goals from Wild’s Nick Manning and player coach Ollie Barron looked to finally be putting daylight between the two teams but another Bulldogs counter left plenty still the played for with the scores at 3-5 after two periods.
The Wild upped their game yet further when they came out for the third period and three goals in quick succession – from Berwyn Hughes and then two more from Stuart Brittle – pretty much killed the game off from a Bradford point of view. And then the game was killed off all together after the plexi-glass was damaged as the match officials decided to cut the game short.
The resulting 3-8 win was the Wild’s 5th unbeaten game in a row and kept them within touching distance of league leaders Blackburn Eagles who beat Sheffield Senators 6-3 the same night.
After the game, player coach Ollie Barron said: “It’s always a tricky game going into Bradford. They set up in a way difficult to play fluent hockey in their home rink, so we knew we would have to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in. We matched the Bulldogs for hunger and grit and I felt the team stepped up a gear in third period to secure the points, scoring some nice team goals along the way. In a way it was disappointing the game ended early due to plexi-glass issues as I felt we had just started to play some really nice hockey.”
Report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)
Saturday 18th February 2017
Bradford Bulldogs 3 – Widnes Wild 8
Period Scores: 1-2, 2-3, 0-3
Widnes Scoring: Stuart Brittle 3 goals, Berwyn Hughes, Ollie Barron, Nick Manning, Bobby Caunce & Ken Armstrong all 1 goal