The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild missed out on the chance to move into second place in the Laidler Conference table after a 6-3 defeat away at north-west rivals Altrincham Aces.
It was another game where the Widnes side failed to make the most of their chances, despite enjoying superior possession for much of the game and being awarded TWO penalty shots – both of which were unsuccessful and, with league leaders Blackburn Eagles beating Sheffield Senators, it leaves a 6 point gap to bridge at the top of the table.
The game actually started well for the Wild with Tom Ratcliffe firing them into the lead with a fierce slapshot on 9 minutes. However Aces top scorer Mikey Gilbert scored an equaliser 5 minutes later and despite numerous chances for both side, the score remained 1-1 at the first break.
The second period was an absolute nightmare for Widnes and they fell being as early as the 24th minute when Aces’ Joe Greaves fired a long shot past netminder Matt Croyle , who was possibly unsighted due to a defender in his line of vision. The Wild had a chance to level the scores with the award of a penalty shot on 28 minutes but captain Shaun Dippnall fired the puck straight at the Aces’ former EPL netminder Declan Ryan.
Another long shot from Greaves edged the Aces further ahead before a powerplay goal from Nick Manning halved the deficit to take keep the Wild in contention at 3-2, however a breakaway goal by John Murray and then a blueline shot from Jared Dickinson left Altrincham leading 5-2 at the second break and giving Widnes a mountain to climb in the third period.
The Wild hammered the Aces defence in the third period – outshooting their hosts by almost 2 to 1 – but it was the same old story when it came to capitalising on those chances. Simon Offord had a chance to pull a goal back with a penalty shot on 50 minutes and, while he slotted his shot past the netminder, it bounced agonisingly off the post and away from the goal.
By the time Stuart Brittle scored Widnes’ 3rd goal, in the 57th minute – a well taken wraparound from behind the goal while short-handed – the game was already slipping away and a final strike by Aces’ John Murray in the last minute capped off an impressive win for the Aces and a disappointing defeat for the Wild.
That result – and the others from the weekend leave Widnes in 3rd place in the Laidler Conference table with 23 points from their 17 games to date. They are level on points with second place Sheffield Senators but the Sens have the upper hand in games between the two teams – albeit by the narrowest one goal margin – so the next meeting between the two teams will have an even greater than usual significance.
It so happens that the RTL Widnes Wild are at home to Sheffield Senators this Sunday 22nd January at Silver Blades Widnes. Face off is at 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.
Saturday 14th January 2017 – Laidler Conference
Altrincham Aces 6 – Widnes Wild 3
Period Scores: 1-1, 4-1, 1-1
Shots On Goal: Aces 34 – Widnes 50 (11-18, 13-13, 10-19)
Penalties In Minutes: Aces 40 – Widnes 12
Widnes Scoring: Tom Ratcliffe, Stuart Brittle, Nick Manning all 1+0, Andrew Turner, Simon Offord, Pavel Vales, Tom Jackson, Shaun Dippnall all 0+1
Match report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)
Photos by Geoff White (www.gw-images.com)