The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild have the opportunity to re-take top spot in the Laidler Division table this weekend with games away at Sheffield Senators on Saturday and then at home to Hull Jets at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday.
Wins in both games would see them overtake current league leaders and local north-west rivals Altrincham Aces, who are just 1 point ahead in the league and have only one game at the weekend – at home to the Senators on Sunday.
The Senators are currently 5th in the Laidler Division table, having lost 6 of their 14 league games to date, but they are the only team to have won at Silver Blades Widnes this season – with a 3-4 victory a month ago – and an away trip to iceSheffield is always a difficult prospect.
The Wild narrowly managed to win there in the first meeting of the two teams this season, ending up 4-5 victors after having trailed 3-0 at the halfway point of the game.
The Senators are on a three-game losing streak at present, having lost to Altrincham, Hull and Coventry in recent weeks and will be keen to stop the slide on Saturday.
Sheffield forward Elliott Knell will be one of the key players to watch out for on Saturday. He is currently 3rd in the Laidler Division scoring charts with 17+23 in 14 games. He was involved in 3 of the 4 Senators goals in their win at Widnes and also had a hand in 3 of their goals in the game at iceSheffield.
Games against Sheffield are always keenly contested anyway but even more so since the arrival of Ollie Barron as player coach at Widnes Wild last season. Barron had previously spent his whole career with Sheffield teams and brought several team-mates with him across the Pennines when he moved to Widnes and, as such, the familiarity between players on both sides helps to make these encounters even more fascinating spectacles.
The game on Sunday against Hull Jets is equally difficult to judge. The Wild have yet to play the Humberside outfit this season and the Jets are currently sitting in 4th place in the Laidler table and come into this game with a string of 6 consecutive wins. However, all of the Jets wins this season have come against teams currently in the lower half of the table and their only meetings with a top team to date have resulted in home and away defeats to Sutton Sting.
The Jets can boast considerable firepower in their ranks with last season’s Laidler Conference top points-scorer Richard Haggar topping the standings again this season with 37+19 from 13 games.
Gowan Beddoes has scored 20+19 and they also have experienced marksman Kieran Beach who has played 11 games for the Hull Pirates in the higher Moralee Division this season.
The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild take on Sheffield Senators at iceSheffield this Saturday 25th November in a 3.30pm face off and then entertain the Hull Jets at home on Sunday at Silver Blades Widnes. Face off is 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.
Report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk