Wild Top Table After 4-Point Opening Weekend
Mikey Gilbert (16) scores his first goal for the Wild against Coventry on Sunday night. (Photo by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com)

The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild opened their NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler) account with two wins over the weekend, beating Bradford Bulldogs 0-5 away in West Yorkshire on Saturday before seeing off Coventry Blaze 5-2 on Sunday night at Silver Blades Widnes.

The game on Saturday – despite the eventual scoreline – was a tough opening test for player coach Ollie Barron’s new look side and the Bradford team look to have strengthened significantly since last season.

The opening was very tense and both teams had their chances – but Bradford‘s rhythm was upset in the 7th minute when one of their players was given a game misconduct penalty for a dangerous high stick and, during the ensuing powerplay, Wild fired in two goals through Ollie Barron and Stuart Brittle.

A third goal from Bobby Caunce just before the break gave the Wild a 0-3 lead after the first period and, after that, the Bulldogs never seemed likely to get back in the game.

The Wild dominated for long periods and peppered the Bradford goal with shots and Bulldogs netminder Philip Pearson did well to keep the score down. The hosts adopted a particularly “robust” approach to playing and picked up numerous penalties, which hampered any chance they may have had of making an impression on the match.

Powerplay goals from Andrew Turner in the 30th minute and Thomas Ratcliffe in the 45th minute put the game beyond any doubt and a solid defensive performance throughout gave Wild netminder Matt Croyle a 26-shot “shut out” for which he deservedly received the Widnes Most Valuable Player award.

The game on Sunday saw the Wild at home to Coventry Blaze – who were another team that looked far from the whipping boys that they had been last season. This game was very closely fought throughout and the result was in question until the final minutes.

It all started well enough for Widnes with two quick-fire goals in the first 10 minutes from new signing Mikey Gilbert and assists from fellow newcomer Matt Barlow who look to be working well together at their new club.

The score remained 2-0 at the end of the first period and, by midway through the second, it was 4 -0 to Widnes as first Stuart Brittle and then Ollie Barron put the puck in the back of the net.

Then Coventry upped their game and scored themselves with around 90 seconds to go of the second period. They almost scored again just seconds later and it took a mad scramble of players around Phil Crosby in the Widnes goal to keep the puck out.  Coventry looked on fire at that point, and, had that goal gone in, it would have set up an even more dramatic final period.

As it was, the period break came at the wrong time for the Blaze and they lost their momentum. Widnes shut up shop in the third period and looked happy to let the clock run down.

A second goal for Coventry with 12 minutes left to play kept them within touching distance, however, and, then, with a little over 2 minutes left, they called a timeout to discuss tactics for a late push.

The time out backfired badly as Widnes went straight down the ice from the restart and scored their fifth goal of the game – somewhat fortuitously as the puck deflected around a melee of players in front of the net before trickling over the goal-line.

The resulting 5-2 scoreline means that Widnes top the NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler) table at this early stage of the season with 4 points from their 2 wins over the weekend.

The Wild are in action again next Sunday, 10th September, when they face Telford Tigers in a Division2 Laidler game at Silver Blades Widnes.  The game faces off at 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.

 

MATCH DETAILS:

 

Saturday 2nd September 2017 –
NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler)
Bradford Bulldogs 0 – Widnes Wild 5
Period Scores: 20-0, 2-1, 1-1
Shots on Goal: Bradford 26 – Widnes 47
Penalties in Minutes:   Bradford 41 – Widnes  14
Widnes Scoring: Andrew Turner, Stuart Brittle & Ollie Barron 1+1,  Tom Ratcliffe & Bobby Caunce 1+0, Bez Hughes 0+2, Simon Offord 0+1
 Match Officials: Juris Susters – Referee, Stephen French – Linesman, Simon Clark – Linesman 
Sunday 3rd September 2017 –
NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler)
Widnes Wild 5 – Coventry Blaze 2
Period Scores: 20-0, 2-1, 1-1
Shots on Goal: Widnes 42 – Coventry 36
Penalties in Minutes:   Widnes  12 – Coventry 2
Widnes Scoring: Stuart Brittle 2+1, Mikey Gilbert 2+0, Ollie Barron 1+1, Nick Manning & Matt Barlow both 0+1, Bobby Caunce 0+1
Match Officials:   Haris Hussain – Linesman, Andrew Miller –  Referee,  Joseph Baggaley  – Linesman 

 

Match Reports by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)

Photos by Geoff White (www.gw-images.com)

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All Photos ©Gw-Images unless otherwise stated

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