The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild boosted their hopes of qualifying for the end of season play-offs with a solid 5-1 victory over Hull Jets at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The first period was incredibly close and, while the Wild took the lead through Stuart Brittle in the 5th minute, the Jets equalised just 2 minutes later. A goal from Wild player coach Ollie Barron after 11 minutes edged Widnes back into the lead and the score remained 2-1 at the first break.
Heading into the second period, the game remained very close and looked as if it could either way. Widnes took a couple of minor penalties – for hooking and too many men on the ice – but the Wild defence held strong and the Jets – boasting the league’s highest scoring attack – were unable to take advantage of the extra man.
Widnes edged further ahead in the 30th minute with a fine strike from Nick Manning and then a powerplay goal from Stuart Brittle gave the Wild a 4-1 lead. Mikey Gilbert scored what would eventually turn out to be the last goal of the evening on 37 minutes and the Wild went into the second break with a fairly comfortable looking 5-1 lead.
Having already qualified for the play offs with a hard fought over-time win the night before over Altrincham Aces and, presumably, hearing that Sutton Sting were about to secure the league title with a win over the Aces on Sunday, the Jets were a little subdued in the third period and, with Widnes having already built up a good lead and having nothing particular to chase for, both teams eased off a little and the result was a comparatively rare goal-less third period.
However, Widnes still had a bit of work to do in defending their lead and managed to safely see off several short handed shifts – and the final minute was livened up by an altercation between Stuart Brittle and Hull’s Jay Robinson, which saw both banished to the penalty box for the last few seconds of the game, along with Wild’s Lee Kemp.
After the game, Wild player coach Ollie Barron said:
“I thought we played a great game – we stuck to our tasks and played hard for each other. Arguably we should have converted more of our chances, but to come away 5-1 winners was pleasing.”
“We have 2 big road games coming up this weekend away to Altrincham and Hull. Both are difficult games with tough opposition but we are in a confident run of form at the minute and I want us to continue in this fashion. I hope to see as many fans as possible cheering us along on the road this weekend.”
The 5-1 victory over Hull means that Widnes are almost certain of qualifying for the plays offs, needing just 2 points from their last 4 games to be mathematically certain of a top 4 finish. They are also well placed for a shot at the runners up position in the Laidler Division table as they are now in 3rd place with 48 points – 4 behind second place Hull but with two games in hand. The top four teams qualify for the end of season play-offs which will be held at Widnes over the weekend of 14th & 15th April.
The Wild have two away games next weekend – at Altrincham Aces on Saturday and then the Hull Jets on Sunday, before playing their last home game of the regular season the following Sunday 25th March when they take on the Sheffield Senators at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off.
This coming Sunday 18th March, the Widnes Wild women’s team have their last home game of the Women’s Premier League season when they entertain the Bracknell Firebees at Planet Ice Widnes. Face off is at 5.30pm. After that, the Halton Huskies recreational team take on the Coventry Spitfires in a challenge match – 8.30pm face off.
The Widnes-based Riverside Raiders recreational team lost 15-3 to a strong RAF Cosford Stars team made up of serving personnel – and including a few former EPL players – at Telford on Saturday night. It was the Raiders’ first game of the year and was a useful try out in advance of their Summer Cup campaign where they won’t necessary face quite the same calibre of opposition. The Raiders have a lot of new players this season and will be hoping to defend their play off trophy that they won last year – and, hopefully, go one further by winning the league and play off double.
The Raiders goals against the RAF team were scored by Adam Murphy (2) and Callum Fraine (1).
Sunday 11th March 2018 – Laidler Division
Widnes Wild 5 – Hull Jets 1
Period Scores: 2-1, 3-0, 0-0
Shots on Goal: Widnes 40 – Hull 34 (14-13, 16-15, 10-6)
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 24 – Hull 14
Widnes Scoring: Stuart Brittle 2+2, Ollie Barron 1+3,Nick Manning 1+1, Mikey Gilbert 1+0, Simon Offord 0+1
Match Officials: David Good – Referee, Sam Campbell – Linesman, Wayne Jenkins – Linesman