The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild gave their Laidler Division title challenge a huge boost with a crucial 0-2 win away to Sutton Sting on Sunday.
In a very tense game, Sutton had the best of the first period, out-shooting the Wild quite considerably but being unable to find a way through the stubborn Widnes defence and past netminder Matt Croyle, who was rock solid in goal throughout.
Despite there being numerous chances for both sides, the first goal of the game didn’t come until the 19th minute when Mikey Gilbert fired in a sensational short handed goal while Wild player coach Ollie Barron was sitting out a slashing penalty and gave Widnes a slender lead heading into the first break.
Widnes had more possession in the second period but the Sting looked the more likely to score as they hit the post several times and also missed numerous clear-cut chances. After a goal-less second period, the home team thought they had finally managed to score at the start of the third but the net was adjudged to have been knocked off its moorings before the puck crossed the line and the goal was disallowed.
The next goal – when it did come – went to the Wild again as Mikey Gilbert found the net in the 45th minute, bringing his total for the season so far to 14 goals in 16 league games.
The latter stages of the game were very tense and there were chances at both ends as the clock ticked slowly down. The Sting pulled off their netminder in favour of an extra attacking player but it was to no avail and the game finished 0-2 to Widnes. It was netminder Matt Croyle’s second shut out in two games and third overall this season.
The result means that Widnes have won all three encounters with Sutton so far this season, which will count in their favour should the two teams eventually finish up on the same number of points in the final league table.
They play their last game of 2017 away at Bradford Bulldogs this Saturday 23rd December and a win there would put the Wild level on points with the top two teams in the division – league leaders Hull and second place Altrincham – but still in third place overall in the table due to results in their games against those teams.
After the game against Sutton Sting, Wild head coach Ollie Barron said:
“A great team performance – with a vital 2 points against a solid Sutton Sting team. We travelled to Sheffield missing some key players, but I was delighted with the teams work rate and desire to grind out the game. Sutton play a fast game, with many good young promising players rolling 4 lines on a big ice pad and they are a difficult team to face.”
“I felt we stayed disciplined and worked hard as a team both defensively and going forward and it was a much deserved MVP award for Matt Croyle who has now had back to back shutouts, facing 57 shots in last night’s game.”
“Our attention now turns to facing Bradford next Saturday where I expect a different game to our last meeting 2 weeks ago. Bradford on home ice pose difficult opposition and we will have to work hard and get stuck in to come away with the points.”
Sunday 17th December 2017 – Laidler Division
Sutton Sting 0 – Widnes Wild 2
Period Scores: 0-1, 0-0, 0-1
Shots on Goal: Sutton 57 – Widnes 36 (27-7, 17-16, 13-13)
Penalties In Minutes: Sutton 10 – Widnes 10
Widnes Scoring: Mikey Gilbert 2+0, Kyle Haslam, Stuart Brittle & Matty Barlow all 0+1
Match Officials: Oliver Truswell – Referee, Emma Sanders – Linesman, Joseph Baggaley – Linesman