The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild face another tough test this Sunday 8th October when they face Altrincham Aces in a top of the table clash at Silver Blades Widnes – 5.30pm face off.
The Wild are top of the NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler) table with an impressive 6 wins from their first 6 games of the season and the Aces are 2 points behind them in second place having won 5 from 5.
Something will have to give this weekend, however, and one of the teams will lose their unbeaten record as there are no draws in NIHL hockey this season and each game must have an outright winner.
Should the score be tied at the end of 3 periods, there will be an extra period of sudden death overtime, playing 3 on 3, where the first team to score wins. The Wild know all about sudden death overtime after losing out to Deeside Dragons in the NIHL North promotion game at Blackburn Arena back in April while the Aces won their second home league game of the season against Sheffield Senators with an overtime goal, after drawing the match 2-2 in normal time. If there is no score after 5 minutes’ overtime, the match will be decided by a penalty shoot out.
Games between these two teams are always eventful and there has been lot of movement of players in both directions over the years, leading to numerous friendships and rivalries. This will be the first time that Widnes have played Altrincham since the Laidler play off semi final at iceSheffield, where the Aces were shut out 2-0.
The Altrincham side have put together a strong roster this season, having added several players from last season’s Blackburn Eagles title winning team to last year’s squad and it will a memorable game for the Wild’s Mikey Gilbert who joined Widnes from Altrincham during the summer and lines up against his former team-mates – including his own brother – for the first time.
The game will also see the retirement of Greg Ruxton’s #64 shirt in honour of the Widnes netminder who stepped down from playing at the end of last season. Ruxton had played for the Wild since their inception in 2013 and remains involved with the club both as a coach and club ambassador.
In what looks to be an eventful night all round, Wild player coach Ollie Barron will also be presented with the Player Of The Month award for the Laidler Division for September as part of the new awards scheme which has been set up to recognise outstanding performances in each of the 4 NIHL divisions.
The game will face off at the usual time of 5.30pm but the presentations will start at 5.10pm so supporters are urged to arrive early. Doors will open at 4.30pm instead of the usual 4.45 to facilitate admission of what is expected to be a capacity crowd.
Report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)