Widnes Wild made their first ever visit to Telford on Saturday, for the first fixture of 2015. A sparse crowd saw the teams take to the ice. Wild were without overseas men Pavel Vales and Filip Supa, Chris Preston and Tom Revesz were also unavailable.
In an end to end first period both netminders made vital saves. The breakout speed of Telfords young forwards was being well matched by the guile of Dunford, Dipnall, Caunce and Pollitt for Wild. Telford took a controversial lead at 10.50 when a Telford forward appeared to be in the crease. There was a suggestion that the puck came off a foot. Wild made regular raids on the Telford goal but were sorely missing the finishing of Filip Supa.
As in the games at Widnes home netminder Denis Bell had kept the Widnes forwards at bay.
The second period opened with an incident in the Widnes end with players colliding as the puck was cleared. Within a minute a well worked Wild attack saw Bell make a fine reaction save and the netminder made three more saves within seconds to keep Wild scoreless. Telford’s breakout speed was a constant threat – a tactic they were using effectively when shorthanded. Caunce, Pollitt and Greaves all saw goalbound shots all well saved by Denis Bell. Wild were applying constant pressure but could not break down the well organised Tigers defence. When Telford attacked Nicole Jackson made several fine saves low down.
In the 36th minute a powerful rising shot from Bez Hughes flashed inches wide with Bell covering the other post. In the final minute of the period Tigers took another tripping penalty but with only seconds remaining Wild couldnt force the equaliser.
The third period got off to the worst possible start. With Wild on the powerplay, water on the ice caused the puck to stop on the point . Outstanding Telford forward James Smith broke away and beat Nicole Jackson with a well placed shot. Within minutes Denis Bell had made more great saves as Wild attacked constantly. Bell made another remarkable stop at 49.42, catching high as Lee Pollittt moved on the net.
In the 58th minute, Bobby Caunce broke out superbly from his own end. His back hand shot to the top left corner brought another remarkable glove save from Bell. Callum Ruddick took two minutes for holding an opponents stick at 58.02, Wild again broke out well, bringing another top save from Bell.
This was a hugely frustrating game with Wild matching their second placed opponents throughout but again falling to the highly effective Telford counter attacking. Netminder Nicole Jackson deservedly took the MVP for Widnes after making 33 saves. She was matched by the outstanding Denis Bell for Tigers, who saved all 36 shots. Head Coach Mark Gillingham said ” We have seen two of the best netminders in the National League out there and that is reflected in the score ”
Next weekend Wild are at home V Bradford on Saturday, with faceoff at 5:30pm, and meet close rivals Sheffield Senators in an afternoon face off at Ice Sheffield on Sunday.