The Widnes Wild women’s team rounded off their regular season with a sensational 2-3 win away at Kingston Diamonds to snatch the last place in the Women’s Premier League play offs.
The Wild women had been set the task of winning their last three games of the season – all away from home – in order to finish in 4th place above Slough Phantoms. This was quite a tall order as they had hitherto only actually won two games all season – both at home – but road wins away at Slough and Milton Keynes in their last two games set up this fascinating season finale.
The team was boosted by the return of Megan Bowen Fell – who hadn’t played since February – and Catherine Bowen Fell, who was making her first appearance of the season. Sarah Roberts took over as captain for the day in the absence of regular skipper Charlene Chapman and goaltending duties were taken up by 18 year old Tegan Lavery who usually plays for Deeside Dragons juniors and was making her first appearance at WPL level.
The game was very close and closely fought thorough and the opening goal was scored after just 2 minutes by Kingston top scorer Reagan Downing – who is a Team GB international and also plays for the Diamonds Elite League team – who fired in a long shot through players which crept past the possibly unsighted netminder Lavery.
Kingston adopted a rather physical approach to this game and there were quite a few penalties handed out to both teams. The first Widnes goal came as result of powerplay for a 2+2 penalty for roughing on the Diamonds’ Alternate Captain Clara Ashton and Wild’s Katie Hills fired in the equaliser in the 18th minute.
The Wild then took the lead – albeit in rather fortunate circumstances – in the dying seconds of the period after Belgian international player Leen de Decker found the loose puck at her feet after a mêlée in the Kingston goal crease and duly poked it into the net. With several players of both sides clearly encroaching and the Diamonds netminder left flailing on the ice, it was open to question as to whether the goal should have been allowed to stand but the referee was in a perfect position to see and Widnes left the ice leading 1-2 at the first break.
The home side’s robust play continued in the second period and included a 2+10 penalty for a check from behind but it was the Diamonds who scored the next goal – Downing again, on 29 minutes – to tie the score at 2-2 with 30 minutes of the game remaining.
There was no more scoring in the second period and the game was on a knife edge when the teams came back out for the third period with the players all keyed up for the challenge. Within seconds of the restart, Katie Hills was banished to the box on 2+2 penalty for roughing plus 10 minutes for misconduct, brought on by a clash with the Kingston captain Bethany Barwell.
In the aftermath of these penalties, Wild’s Megan Bowen Fell was handed a match penalty for a kick, leaving the Widnes bench somewhat short for the rest of the period but despite this, with a little over 10 minutes to go, Widnes re-took the lead with a fine strike from Amanda Williams who picked up the puck inside the Wild bluezone and skated the length of the ice, bypassing several defenders, to fire the puck into the roof of the Hull net.
The tension was unbelievable around the Hull Arena as the clock slowly ticked down and the Wild women hung on for a well-earned 2-3 victory – and a place in the WPL play offs.
After the game, coach Owen Tennant said:
“It was a tough game that could have gone either way. Some debatable calls were/were not made, all of which I will be reviewing personally. That aside, I guess in the end it just came down to who wanted it more. Knowing that the win would take us to the playoffs definitely played a big part in us coming away with the win.”
“Being able to say that we have made the playoffs is a great feeling and the girls should be very proud of themselves. The work they put in week in week out is the reason that they have the chance to compete in the playoffs. I believe that the girls can put in a great performance over the weekend and I see no reason why we shouldn’t be aiming to win the competition.”
Saturday 27th May 2017 – Women’s Premier League
Kingston Diamonds 2 – Widnes Wild Women’s Team 3
Period Scores: 1-2, 1-0, 0-1
Shots on Goal: Kingston 39 – Widnes 39
Penalties in Minutes: Kingston 26 – Widnes 47
Widnes Scoring: Leen de Decker, Katie Hills & Amanda Williams all 1+0
Match report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)