The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild saw their Laidler Conference title challenge take a battering as they crashed to a disappointing 4-2 defeat in the late face off game away at Nottingham Lions on Sunday.
The Wild had actually led for most of the game until seeing all their hard work undone in a disastrous last five minutes in the Lace City which, along with other unfavourable results around the league, saw them drop down to 5th place in the table.
In contrast to recent weeks where the Wild had been having trouble finding the back of the net, this time around they got off to a dream start, as defenceman Andrew Turner fired them into the lead after just 4 minutes of play. The lead lasted just over 5 minutes until Lions’ Cameron Pywell put the hosts back on level terms but the Wild dug deep and were back in front again some 4 minutes later after Will Barron converted a pass from Turner.
The score remained 1-2 at the first break and – somewhat mystifyingly – was still 1-2 at the second break despite the Wild throwing everything but the kitchen sink a the Lion’s goal during that period, outshooting the Lions by 2 to 1.
In view of how close this game was, there were a surprisingly few penalties for either side. However it was during a Lions powerplay for a Wild tripping penalty that Nottingham levelled the scores with 10 minutes left to play. Worse was to come 5 minutes later when the Lions intercepted the puck in centre ice and Pywell charged down to score his second goal of the game and put the home side ahead for the first time of the night.
Widnes upped the pressure in an attempt to try and salvage something from the game and the Lions were forced into taking a couple of late penalties. With just one minute left to go and Widnes on a 5 on 3 powerplay, they pulled netminder Matt Croyle in favour of an extra attacker. Unfortunately, the tactic failed as Nottingham cleared the puck and scored in the empty net to finish the game with a 4-2 victory.
Having started the day in 4th place with the incentive of climbing to 3rd with a defeat of the Lions, the Wild instead found themselves dumped down to 5th place after north west rivals Altrincham Aces beat Bradford Bulldogs 6-3 to leapfrog them.
Widnes are now 8 points behind league leaders Blackburn Eagles but they do have games in hand over all the teams above them. They will have the chance to start bridging that gap when they play the Eagles away at the Silver Blades Arena in Blackburn next Saturday before playing host to the league’s bottom club Coventry Blaze at home at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday, 4th December, in a 5.30pm face off.
Sunday 27th Nov 2016 – Laidler Conference
Nottingham Lions 4 – Widnes Wild 2
Period Scores: 1-2, 0-0, 2-0
Shots On Goal: Nottingham 37 – Widnes 41 (14-9, 8-16, 14-16)
Penalties: Nottingham 14 – Widnes 8
Widnes Scoring: Andrew Turner 1+1, Will Barron 1+1, Nick Manning & Stuart Brittle 0+1