The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild will be hoping for a winning start to 2018 as they resume their Laidler Division title challenge with two exciting north west derbies this weekend – travelling to North Wales to take on the Deeside Dragons N2 team on Saturday and then hosting the Altrincham Aces in a crucial 2nd v 3rd fixture at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday, 5.30pm face off.
The game at Deeside on Saturday would look to be the easier of the two – on paper, at least – with the Dragons development team struggling near the bottom of the league table with just win from 17 starts this season. The Wild have only played them once so far – beating them 11-6 at home back in November – but previous form can count for nothing in the “world’s fastest team sport”, as Widnes’ surprise 3-1 defeat away at Bradford Bulldogs just before Christmas clearly demonstrates.
The home game against Altrincham on Sunday is something of a “must –win” game for the Wild if they hope to maintain pressure at the top of the Laidler Division table. The two teams have been locked together in a fascinating battle for most of the season, with each having led the table at various times before recently both being overtaken by current table toppers Hull Jets.
The Wild beat the Aces 2-1 with a dramatic over-time winner back in October and then lost their away fixture 0-2 a month later. The Aces are currently second in the Laidler table with 30 points and the Wild are in third with 28. However, Widnes have a game in hand over Altrincham and a win on Sunday would hand them the advantage in terms of games between the two teams, which is used to separate teams who are on the same number of points.
Having put together a very good run of results in the early part of the season, the Aces have lost 4 of their last 6 games – including a 4-7 home reverse by Telford Tigers just before Christmas – so they will also have lot to prove in what will be their first game of 2018.
The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild play the Altrincham Aces this Sunday 7th January in their first home game of 2018 at Silver Blades Widnes. Face off is at 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.
Report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk
Photos by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com