The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild got 2018 off to a winning start with an emphatic away victory over a woefully under-strength Deeside Dragons development team, picking up a club record 2-22 win.
The Wild’s Shaun Dippnall opened the scoring after 4 minutes and the game was already effectively over by the 10th minute after strikes from Lee Kemp and head coach Ollie Barron put Widnes 0-3 ahead.
The Wild were in complete control – out-shooting the Dragons by an incredible 41 to 2 in the first period – and goals from Barron, again, Danny Bullock – back in a Widnes shirt after a long lay off due to injury, Barron, Kyle Haslam and then Stuart Brittle handed the visitors an already unassailable 0-8 lead heading into the first break.
The “goal fest” continued in the second period, although Deeside had a lot more of the play, with the shots-on-goal count coming out at a much more respectable 13 to 21. However, of the 21 Widnes shots, 12 of them penetrated the shaky Dragons defences and goals from (in order…) Dippnall, Barron x2, Haslam, Barron, Haslam, Nick Manning, Mikey Gilbert, Barron, Gilbert, Brittle and then Gilbert again (rounding off a hat-trick in just over 6 minutes) brought the Wild tally to 20 by the end of the second period.
There was a little bit of something to cheer about for the Dragons fans as Sam Plant fired in an opening goal for the home side at 28.49.
Heading into the final period with the score at 1-20 in favour of the Wild, there was only going to be one result, the question was – how high would the final score be?
It couldn’t be said that Widnes eased off in the last period – although with a big home game against Altrincham Aces coming up the next day, you certainly couldn’t blame them if they had – and they actually fired in an incredible 32 shots on the Dragons’ goal but the fact of the matter is that only two of them – from Danny Bullock after 41 minutes and Ollie Barron after 54 – went in.
It says a lot that, despite being beaten by 22 shots, the Dragons netminder Charlie Perry – who was only playing recreational hockey before the start of the current season – actually stopped the other 72 shots that were fired at him and, because of the way that statistics are calculated, actually finished up with a better Save % from the game than the Widnes netminders who only let in two goals between them.
The third period of the game was a big milestone moment for Widnes ice hockey as netminder Barry Sprakes came on to replace Matt Croyle in goal and played his first ever shift of league ice hockey. Sprakes has been involved with the club since it started and played mainly for the Widnes Wildcats recreational team. He is the first Widnes born and trained player to make a league appearance for his home club and he gave a very good account of himself – facing 8 shots and letting just one in – in the 53rd minute – which was the only other Dragons goal in the game.
Saturday 6th January 2018 – Laidler Division
Deeside Dragons N2 2 – Widnes Wild 22
Period Scores: 0-8, 1-12, 1-2
Shots on Goal: Dragons 23 – Widnes 94 (2-41, 13-21, 8-32)
Penalties In Minutes: Dragons 2 – Widnes 4
Widnes Scoring (UNOFFICAL FIGURES): Ollie Barron 8+3, Kyle Haslam 3+0, Mikey Gilbert 3+5, Stuart Brittle 2+7, Daniel Bullock 2+4, Shaun Dippnall 2+3, Lee Kemp 1+0, Manning 1+6, Pavel Vales 0+3, Bez Hughes, Matty Barlow, Mike Mawer all 0+2, Andrew Turner, Dan Bracegirdle & Barry Sprakes all 0+1
Match Officials: Adam Hands – Referee, Tadeusz Kolarz – Linesman, Samuel Campbell – Linesman