Sunday 4th September 2016 – Widnes Wild 8 – Hull Jets 1
Period Scores: 2-0, 4-1, 2-0
Shots on Goal: Widnes 67-Hull 26
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 44 – Hull 24

Widnes Scoring: Oliver Barron 2+2, Shaun Dippnall 1+3, Michal Fico 1+1, Karl Niamatali 1+ 0, Daniel Bullock, Thomas Ratcliffe, Kieran Strangeway all 1+0, Will Barron 0+ 2, Stuart Brittle 0+2, Lee Kemp, Jo Gilbert, Berwyn Hughes, Michael Mawer all 0+1

The Widnes Wild ice hockey team got their Laidler Conference campaign off to a winning start with a comprehensive 8-1 victory over Hull Jets on Sunday at Silver Blades Widnes.

The game started off quite evenly matched with both teams testing each other out but it livened up as early as the 4th minute when a crunching check against the boards on Wild player coach Ollie Barron left him lying face down on the ice for some moments while a vindictive melée ensued around him.

The Hull player responsible picked up a 2+10 minute major penalty for an illegal check to the head and another received a 2+2 for getting involved in the “afters” but three Widnes players were also penalised – including a 2+2+10 roughing call on team captain Shaun Dipnall, all of which left the Wild a man down on the ice.

That didn’t seem to matter too much however as, within less than a minute, Slovakian import Michal Fico picked up a pass from Will Barron to fire in an excellent short-handed goal to put the Wild into the lead.

More penalties followed for both teams in what might best be described as a “robust” first period but it was Widnes who found the net again as Danny Bullock scored at 13.18 to double the Wild advantage.  There was no more scoring in a first period that saw Widnes outshoot Hull by a remarkable  31 shots to 5 and Jets netminder David Good – who, interestingly enough, guested for the Wild team in the play offs in April when first choice netminder Greg Ruxton was injured – performed magnificently  to keep out 29 of those shots.

A powerplay goal by Kieran Strangeway just 3 minutes after the restart looked to have put the game out of reach of the struggling Hull side but then came a blip! Widnes netminder Greg Ruxton – supported by a well ordered Wild defence – had a tremendous game all round but, just as with last week’s match against Altrincham, a sloppy clearance out of defence gifted the puck to a Hull attacker who made the most of his opportunity of a point-blank shot on goal to give the Jets a chance of pulling themselves back into the game.

But then the “second period game changing moment” occurred. Two Widnes goals within just 15 seconds of each other completely  deflated the Jets’ sails put the game well beyond any chance of a fight back. Player coach Ollie Barron scored the first himself, picking up on a pass from Shaun Dipnall and then Karl Niamatali produced the second hammer blow to give the Wild a virtually unassailable 5-1 lead with still 30 minutes of the game to go. Then team captain Shaun Dipnall chipped in on 31 minutes with a goal of his own to give Widnes a 6-1 lead going into the final period.

To give them due credit, the Hull team could easily have crumbled at this point and just gone through the motions until the end of the game but, instead, they upper their performance and made a real go of it in the third period.   Widnes found themselves on the back foot and incurred several minor penalties while attempting to deal with the Jets’ onslaught. They managed to soak up the pressure and even hold out for a whole four minutes playing 3 against 5 and then – once back on level terms – Tom Ratcliffe charged forward and scored the Wild’s seventh goal of the game.

The final goal of the game came at 53.30 and was one to savour as Ollie Barron dived full stretch on the ice to guide home a pass from Dipnall to well and truly kill off the game.

The resulting 8-1 scoreline means that Widnes Wild actually top the Laidler Conference table after the first weekend’s games due to their having a greater winning margin than the other teams at this, admittedly, very early stage of the season.

With goals coming from 7 different players and 13 players in all featuring on the scoresheet, it was a good all round performance from Ollie Barron’s new look Widnes Wild team. As the season progresses and the new playing partnerships continue to gel, there will undoubtedly lots more to look forward to in the months to come.

Looking back at the game, player coach Ollie Barron said:

“It was great to get the season started with a win, in front of a big crowd.  I was pleased with the quick start, we created good goal scoring chances while keeping the defensive zone tight. We did run in to some penalty trouble, some of which was avoidable and that’s one thing we need to be more disciplined with. One thing I am keen for us to do is to run quick shifts playing 4-line hockey. 

 Overall, scoring 8 goals from 7 different scorers was a big positive as it’s important to have depth across all lines. It was only our third game together as a new group and we are still implementing new systems and playing styles, so I am pleased with the start.”

The Wild are without game next weekend and are next in action away at Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday 17th September – 5pm start.  They then travel to Hull the Saturday after before entertaining Bradford Bulldogs in a home fixture on Sunday 25th September – 5.30pm face off.

However, there is more exciting ice hockey action at Silver Blades Widnes this Sunday as the Widnes Wild Women’s team play their first Women’s Premier League match of the season against Milton Keynes Falcons.  The game faces off at 5.30pm and admission is free.

Photo: View from behind the goal as #40 Tom Ratcliffe celebrates as goal seven hits the Hull net (by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com)

 

 

 

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