The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild face two tough away trips this weekend in the NIHL North Laidler Conference with visits to Bradford on Saturday and Nottingham on Sunday.
Saturday’s opponents the Bradford Bulldogs are second bottom of the table with just 7 points from their 22 games this season. They have struggled for most of the season but have, in fact, picked up home wins against Altrincham Aces and Sheffield Senators. Bradford’s compact home rink is always a difficult place to play and when the Wild played there at the start of the season, they found themselves 3-0 down before bouncing back to eventually win 4-5. Widnes beat the Bulldogs 8-0 at Silver Blades Widnes at the end of September but the two sides haven’t met since then.
The long trip to Nottingham on Sunday – combined with the relatively late face off time of 7.30pm – always makes that particular road trip seem rather daunting and Widnes have often struggled on their visits to the Lace City.
They lost 4-2 at the National ice Centre back in November before beating the Lions 8-4 at home in mid-December. The most recent meeting between the two teams – in front of the Drop The Puck cameras for the Made in Liverpool TV station at Silver Blades Widnes – ended up in a 3-3 draw.
While that result could be viewed as a good one for the Lions, it came as part of a disappointing run that has seen them not win a single game since their 3-6 away win in Bradford on 7th January. Since then, the Lions have drawn an incredible 4 games – admittedly against title challengers Sheffield, Widnes and Blackburn Eagles, as well as 6th place Hull Jets – but they have also lost crucial home games against Hull and Altrincham Aces in what most people would normally have expected to be home victories.
With Widnes sitting 5 points behind league leaders Blackburn Eagles and just 7 games left to play, every point is crucial. Attention on Saturday night will also be focused on the Eagles v Senators game that is being played at Blackburn that night, where a defeat for the Senators might help kill off any aspirations they have of overtaking the Wild for second place but would also give the home side a huge advantage in the championship run-in.
The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild play away to Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday in a 5pm face off and Nottingham Lions on Sunday in a 7.30pm face off. They are also away for the following two weekends before their next home which will be on Sunday 12th March when they entertain Hull Jets in a 5.30pm face off game at Silver Blades Widnes.
Report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)