The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild maintained their position at the top of the Laidler Division table with a 7-3 victory over Coventry NIHL Blaze at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
With the game being played on Remembrance Sunday and also coinciding with the centenary of the Armistice that brought a halt to hostilities in World War One, the game was attended by the Royal British Legion and their ceremonial Standard Bearers and the evening as a whole was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the First World War and the many other conflicts worldwide since then.
There was a special commemoration before the game with a poppy wreath being laid at centre ice by the two team captains, poetry readings, the last post and a highly atmospheric and emotive 2 minutes’ silence and, while still being competitive, the game itself was played out in good humour with respect and decorum.
The previous meeting between the two teams had seen the Wild win 0-8 just two weeks ago but this was a different game entirely and it was the Blaze who took the lead 7 minutes into the game.
A goal from Wild player coach Ollie Barron cancelled out the deficit some five minutes later and then two goals from Mikey Gilbert gave the home team a 3-1 lead at the first break.
The first period buzzer came at the wrong time for the Wild as it interrupted their momentum and the game changed in the second period. Coventry had much more of the puck and pulled a goal back on 24 minutes.
While Widnes had their chances, they didn’t make the most of them and things got even worse when the Blaze scored an equalising goal on 34 minutes. The score remained 3-3 at the end of the second period and the game was very finely balanced with just 20 minutes left to play.
Widnes were the quickest out of the blocks in the third period and upped their game considerably – out-shooting the Blaze by 21 to 8 in the last 20 minutes.
A Tom Jackson goal on 43 minutes put them back into the lead and then a strike from Barron some two minutes later edged them further ahead.
Two short handed goals – one for Jakub Hajek and the other from Mikey Gilbert to round off his hat-trick – finished off the scoring for the night and the game ended with a 7-3 win for the Wild.
After the game, Wild player coach Ollie Barron said:
“A tricky game but I thought we started off quite well with large spells on pressure on the Blaze in the first period. I felt Coventry took the lead against the run of play and for us to come back with a good response to lead the period 3-1 was a big positive.”
“In the second period, Coventry worked harder than us and took the period 2-0. It was frustrating to be drawing 3-3 at the end of the second period, but its nothing that the Blaze didn’t deserve. In the third period, I felt every single Wild player stepped up the tempo and finished our chances overall to take the game 7-3. A vital 2 points, to keep up our good form.”
“Mikey Gilbert grabbed the MoM award deservedly after scoring a hat-trick and two other players deserve special praise in my opinion. Jakub Hajek’s work rate has really boosted the team since his arrival. I couldn’t have asked for much more from Jakub, he’s a great team player for us. Also Tom Jackson who, in recent weeks, has really stepped up his game, He grabbed our fourth goal and the eventual game winner, so well done TJ.”
“We face a tough game next week away to Deeside Dragons, in which we must play for 60 minutes and match the tempo of our 3rd period against the Blaze.”
“A special mention to the off-ice team who organised a great remembrance service pre game, and thanks for both teams and fans for observing it impeccably.”
The Wild are next in action next Sunday 18th November when they make the relatively short trip to North Wales to take on the Deeside Dragons. They are next at home the following Sunday 25th November when they host the Hull Jets at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30pm face off.
Sunday 11th November 2018 – Laidler Division
Widnes Wild 7 – Coventry NIHL Blaze 3
Period Scores: 3-1, 0-2, 4-0
Shots on Goal: Widnes 44 – Coventry 19 (12-2, 11-9, 21-8)
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 20 – Coventry 16
Widnes Scoring: Mikey Gilbert 3+0, Ollie Barron 2+1, Jakub Hajek 1+3, Tom Jackson 1+0, Danny Bullock, Simon Offord, Stuart Brittle & Shaun Dippnall all 0+1
Match Officials: Juris Susters – Referee, Simon Clark & Lorna Beresford – Linesman
MVPs: Widnes – Mikey Gilbert / Coventry – Philip Mulcahy