Wild Topple Tigers In Bruising Encounter

The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild maintained their 100% start to the new NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler) season with a hard fought 4-1 win over Telford Tigers on Sunday night at Silver Blades Widnes.

The Tigers arrived as league leaders having briefly taken over at the top of the table from Widnes following a 7-4 win over Coventry on Saturday night and they brought a strong team for this battle between the top two. At first glance, their team looked even stronger than it actually was until it became clear the Telford team were actually wearing last season’s away shirts and several of the players had other people’s names on the back of their playing tops..!

The game started well for the Wild with a goal from Mikey Gilbert giving them the lead after just 2 minutes. There were a couple of penalties handed out in the early stages but nothing to suggest what was to follow later and the Wild doubled their lead by the first break with a goal from Latvian import Elvis Veldze in the 17th minute.

As the teams were leaving the ice after the buzzer, there was a bit of a skirmish that broke out and which soon spread to involve most of the players from both sides. The situation was calmed by the match officials and the result was a match penalty for fighting for Telford’s former EPL player James Smith.

The game continued without particular incident for the early part of the second period until Widnes were called for having too many on the ice during a line change and were handed a 2 minute bench penalty. Rather ironically, in their keenness to make the most of their man advantage, the Tigers also picked up a bench penalty for too many men on the ice and ended up a man short themselves for 30 seconds after the Widnes penalty had expired.  It was during the ensuing Widnes powerplay that player coach Ollie Barron scored the Wild’s 3rd goal of the night and it just looked as if they might start to run away with the game.

Within a minute of Widnes’ third goal, however, there was a brutal altercation against the boards which saw the Telford player who had initiated it receive a 2+10 minute penalty for boarding and Wild’s Thomas Ratcliffe get a match penalty for fighting for slightly over exuberant reaction.

Less than a minute after that, there was another ugly incident which saw Wild’s solid defenceman Andrew Turner handed a match penalty for a “kick”, although the match officials didn’t deem the Telford player who seemed to have provoked the fracas as worthy of sanction.

Once the initial 2 minute boarding penalty had expired, Telford were able to return to full strength, meaning that Widnes still had almost 3 minutes to play 3 against 5 while the two 5 minutes posted on the clock for each of the match penalties ticked down.

Not surprisingly, this was too long to try and hold out short-handed and Telford finally managed to breach the Wild defence in the 36th minute.  The Wild held strong and first one and then the other of the penalties expired and they were back to full strength by the end of the period with the score still standing at 3-1.

There was another incident – as the players were going off the ice for the second break – which saw Telford’s goalscorer Conor Gordon and Wild’s import defenceman Pavel Vales both handed 2+2 penalties for fighting and it while they were both still in the penalty box that Bobby Caunce popped up to score the 4th Widnes goal of the evening at 41.51.

That rounded off the scoring for the game and, while there were still chances at both ends and some great saves by Wild netminder Phil Crosby –who went on to win the man of the match award for Widnes – there was no further noteworthy incident.

The 4-1 victory saw Widnes leapfrog Telford at the top of the North 2 league table and they now lead the division with 6 points from their 3 games to date. Telford were also overtaken by Altrincham Aces who beat Sheffield Senators with a 3-2 overtime win. The Tigers and Aces both have 4 points although Telford have played a game more.

Looking back at the Telford game, Wild player coach Ollie Barron said:

“Telford have a good roster, made up of some experienced players with a good bunch of youthful players. We knew we were going to in for a difficult game, with most of the Telford team playing the higher Moralee division last season.

I thought we started the game playing some nice hockey, moving the puck well and creating some good chances, leading the first period 2-0. It was at the buzzer of the first period where the mood of the game changed with Elvis Veldze taking a blind-side cheap shot punch to the head. This changed the outlook of the game with lots of penalties called, breaking the flow of the game, not allowing any real momentum for either team. The main objective was to get the 2 points, which we achieved by grinding the result out, which I was pleased with taking the 4-1 victory.”

The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild are next in action next Sunday 17th September when they entertain Sutton Sting in an NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler) match at Silver Blades Widnes.  Face off is at 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.

Why not listen to Time To Go Wild Radio on Halton Community Radio on 92.3 FM or through the TuneIn app on Mondays between 7pm and 8pm. You can also follow the RTL Widnes Wild on Twitter and Facebook using @WidnesWild as well as on Widnes Wild Ice Hockey Club YouTube channel which features the Time To Go Wild Podcast and all home game highlights. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #TimeToGoWild or #TTGW when talking about the Wild on social media.

Match Details:

Sunday 10th September 2017 – NIHL North Division 2 (Laidler)
Widnes Wild 4 – Telford 1
Period Scores: 2-0, 1-1, 1-0
Shots on Goal: Widnes 38 – Telford 38
Penalties in Minutes: Widnes 74 – Telford 37

Widnes Scoring: Ollie Barron 1+1, Mikey Gilbert, Elvis Veldze & Bobby Caunce all 1+0, Stuart Brittle, Bez Hughes, Lee Kemp, Andrew Turner all 0+1
Match Officials: Richard Fraley – Referee, Lee Bentham & Stefan Jones Linesmen
Match Report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)
Photos by Geoff White (www.gw-images.com)

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