The Widnes Wild women’s team put up a plucky performance in their Women’s Premier League game at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday before eventually succumbing to a 2-3 defeat to high-flying Streatham Storm.
The face-off time for this game had been brought forward from its scheduled 5.30 start time to 4pm in order to accommodate the Manchester Phoenix EPL game which had been switched to Widnes at short notice during the week. Unfortunately, this late change meant that certain Wild women’s players were unable to take part and the Widnes team were subsequently at a disadvantage but the team that played gave a very good account of themselves.
After a fairly even opening, the visiting Storm took the lead after 13 minutes when a long shot from just inside the blueline beat Wild netminder Stephanie Drinkwater. Worse was to come when just over two minutes later, Widnes lost the puck from a face off in the Streatham zone and the Storm broke away to score a second goal to give them a 0-2 lead going into the first break.
The second period began much as the first had finished with the Storm laying siege to the Widnes goal and it seemed only a matter of time before the floodgates began to open. However, the Wild defence valiantly kept the attackers at bay and netminder Stephanie Drinkwater performed heroics to stop multiple close range shots.
The storm was weathered somewhat and, just after the half-way point in the game, the Wild women’s fortunes changed. Katie Hills stole the puck off a Streatham player near the half way line, skated the length of the ice and crossed for team captain Charlene Chapman to fire in the opening Widnes goal.
After this breakthrough, the Wild women seemed to play with a bit more self-belief and the game opened up. At the end of the second period, the score was still 1-2 with everything to play for.
The third period was incredibly tense and, after increasing periods of pressure, Widnes finally got their just desserts after a long shot from Sav Sumner bounced around the Streatham goalmouth before Wild’s Belgian international player Leen de Decker fired through a melee of players to put the home side on level terms on 53 minutes.
The Wild women pushed forward trying to force a winning goal but were caught out at the back as Streatham broke through some two minutes to retake the lead. The last 4 minutes were as exciting ice hockey as you could hope to see anywhere as the Wild women tried to snatch a late goal.
Women’s games don’t tend to be all that physical as body checking is not allowed and the play is usually more based upon skating and passing skills rather than the more physical aspect of the men’s game. However, tempers flared in the dying moments of this game when Widnes’ Katie Hills received a roughing penalty with just 22 seconds left on the clock. Her penalty expired once the buzzer sounded for the end of the match and Hills raced out of the penalty box to take issue with one of the Streatham players who subsequently ended up on the floor. There was a lot of pushing and shoving among the players and Hills was given a further 2+10 minutes for cross checking. A Streatham player got 10 minutes for incitement and Wild’s Sav Sumner received 2 minutes for roughing in the same incident.
The result saw Streatham move level on points at the top of the league with leaders Chelmsford Cobras who drew 3-3 away at Nottingham. The Wild women remain in 5th place with 7 points from their 8 games to date.
After the game, Coach Owen Tennant said:
“We got off to a bit of a slow start which made it tough to come back from. The girls put in a fantastic effort throughout the second and third periods and deserved more than the 2 goals they pulled back. It was just one of those games – we didn’t do much wrong but the slow start cost us.”
“As I’ve said previously, it’s extremely hard for a team to play with a short bench but I think the girls deserve a big well done for carrying on with the situation they were put in, and still showing a great performance.”
The Wild women’s next WPL game is away against the team immediately above them in the table – Slough Phantoms – on Sunday 5th February in a 5.15pm face off. The following week – on Sunday 12th February – they face current league leaders Chelmsford Cobras in what is their last home league game of the season at Silver Blades Widnes, although the Wild women will still have two more away games to play after that.
Sunday 15th January 2017 – Women’s Premier League
Widnes Wild Women’s Team 2 – Streatham Storm 3
Period Scores: 0-2, 1-0, 1-1
Shots On Goal: Widnes 28 – Streatham 53 (11-20, 9-17, 8-16)
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 18 – Streatham 16
Widnes Scoring: Charlene Chapman 1+1, Leen de Decker 1+0, Katie Hills 0+2, Emma Pearson 0+1