Wild’s Shaun Dippnall (#93) sees his shot saved the Aces netminder (Photo by Hannah Walker)
Saturday 2nd November 2019: Bradford Bulldogs 5 – YKK Widnes Wild 1 (NIHL Laidler Division)
Sunday 3rd November 2019: YKK Widnes Wild 3 – Altrincham Aces 4 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild had a disappointing weekend, losing 5 – 1 away to Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday and then 3 – 4 at home to Altrincham Aces on Sunday.
In the game at Bradford on Saturday, the Wild actually took the lead after just 4 minutes, with a short-handed goal from Jakub Hajek. Bradford, however, hit back with two quick-fire short handed goals of their own within 17 seconds of each other and were still leading 2 – 1 at the first period break.
Overall, this was a fairly evenly matched game and, while both teams had their chances in front of goal, it was the Bulldogs who were able to make the most of their opportunities. A third goal for the hosts on 27 minutes edged them further ahead and 2 further strikes handed them a commanding 5 – 1 lead at the end of the second period. A rare goal-less third period left the score remaining 5 – 1 at the end of the game.
The home game against the Aces on Sunday started badly for the Wild as Altrincham scored the opening goal just 49 seconds from the face off.
Widnes equalised 6 minutes later with a goal from Shaun Dippnall and then edged into the lead with 2 minutes to go in the period with a strike from former Aces player Jakub Hajek.
This game was incredibly close and played at a frantic tempo – it was end-to-end hockey throughout, very entertaining to watch and the result was in doubt until the very dying seconds. The Wild actually out-shot Altrincham by a considerable margin over the 60 minutes but were unable to convert that superiority into goals.
The Aces equalised on 35 minutes and, just as it looked as if the teams would end the second period at level pegging, a speculative Altrincham long shot – just as the clock was ticking down the remaining seconds – flew into the back of the Wild net exactly as the buzzer was sounded.
It took the match officials several minutes to decide whether the puck had, indeed, crossed the line just before the buzzer and, while this was confirmed after the game with close frame-by-frame scrutiny by the Wild’s videographer, it was a very tight call to make and the resulting goal handed the Aces a significant edge heading into the third period.
The third period began with a fight at the face off, which allowed both sets of players and fans to let off steam – and the Wild went on to level the score again just 3 minutes into the period with a power play goal from captain Danny Bullock.
Widnes threw the metaphorical “kitchen sink” at the Aces goal, out-shooting them by 20 to 9 in the third period but were caught out at the back and Aces import Vlads Vulkanovs fired in his third straight goal of the game on 51 minutes to put Altrincham back into the lead.
The remainder of the game was incredibly tense, with the Wild threatening to force a late equaliser but not quite managing to do so. They were hampered when a couple of late penalties saw them having to defend a 3-on-5 situation for a two full minutes and they then pulled netminder Jonah Armstrong out for the last 43 seconds of the game in favour of an extra attacker but it was to no avail and the Aces came away with a narrow 3 – 4 victory.
The MVP Awards were presented by young Wild fan Thomas Sprawson, who was celebrating his recent birthday at the game. The recipients were captain Andy Dunn for the Aces and Jakub Hajek for the Wild. A raffle for a signed Widnes shirt was held in aid of Stick ‘n’ Step, who are the Wild’s chosen charity for the season, and £120 was raised.
The weekend results overall see Bradford Bulldogs move back to the top of the Laidler Division table while Widnes currently occupy seventh spot, albeit with games in hand over all the other teams. The Wild are away to Nottingham Lions in the Midland Cup this Sunday 10th November – 7.30 p.m. face off – and are next at home the following Sunday 17th November when they take on the Telford Tigers2 team in the Laidler Division at Planet Ice Widnes – face off 5.30 p.m.
The Planet Ice rink in Widnes is the host venue this Sunday 10th November when the Leeds Chiefs team take on the Swindon Wildcats in a National Division game – face off 5.30 p.m.