The Widnes Wild women’s team gave their play-off hopes a boost with a sensational 4-5 win away at third place Milton Keynes Falcons in the Women’s Premier League on Sunday.
The Wild women had lost 1-5 at home to the Falcons earlier in the season but were on a roll after their 2-9 win away at Slough the previous week and are still in with a chance of snatching 4th place, if results go their way over the next couple of weeks.
This was a very evenly fought game throughout with both teams having plenty of chances. Widnes took the lead after just 25 seconds with a strike from their Belgian international player Leen de Decker and the advantage was doubled on 16 minutes while the Wild women were on a powerplay for a Falcons’ penalty. Katie Hills picked up on an Amanda Williams pass and slotted the puck into the net to make the score 0-2 to Widnes at the first break.
The home team’s penalty woes continued into the second period and Hills and Williams combined again with another powerplay goal to punish a slashing call on 25 minutes to give the Wild women a three goal lead.
Once the Falcons were returned to full strength, they finally managed to score their first goal of the game through leading scorer Rachel Piotrowski but the brief rally did not last long as Widnes restored their three goal advantage on 29 minutes with a first ever goal from Savannah Sumner who is playing her first season of competitive ice hockey.
The Falcons rallied again after this and Piotrowski scored her second goal of the game on 34 minutes – but the Wild women were still looking good for their lead and went into the second break with a 2-4 advantage.
Things looked even better for the Wild women at the start of the third period as, within 90 seconds of the restart, Leen de Decker scored her second goal of the game – and Widnes’ fifth – to give them a commanding lead.
The home side upped their game in the third period and finally began to take advantage of their numerical superiority on the bench as the Wild players gradually began to tire. The Wild were outshot for the first time in the game – by 14 to 8 – but netminder Stephanie Drinkwater was outstanding in the Widnes goal.
The pressure paid off for Milton Keynes in the 47th minute when Piotrowski scored her hat trick goal to narrow the score down to 3-5 and then another Falcons’ goal came with just 8 minutes left to ensure that the game had a nail-biting finish.
The Wild women held on to record their 4th victory of the season and notch up their 3rd game in a row unbeaten.
After the game, team coach Owen Tennant said:
“What a game of hockey! As in the previous game, the girls put in an outstanding performance short benched and were deserving of the win. Training sessions really shone through as you could pick out the plays that we continue to work on. The work ethic of every one of the girls is fantastic, both in matches and training.”
“It was a real team performance, something I feel is becoming a stronger attribute every game. With one more game for us to win, and a bit of luck that other results go our way, playoffs are definitely within our grasp.”
Widnes are still in 5th place in the Women’s Premier League table but are now just 2 points behind Slough Phantoms who occupy the final play off place. Both teams have one game left to play and the Wild travel to Hull to face the Kingston Diamonds on Saturday 27th May in their final league game of the season.
However, their play-off fate might already have been decided for them by then as Slough are at home to Milton Keynes next Saturday 13th May and, if they win that game, they will not be able to overtaken by Widnes.
Widnes could then, theoretically, still finish on the same number of points as Milton Keynes if the Falcons were to lose their last game at home to second bottom team Nottingham Vipers on 28th May but, even under that scenario, Milton Keyes would still finish above Widnes as they have a superior record in head to head games between the two teams.
The Widnes Wildcats suffered defeat in their first fixture in this year’s Summer Cup as they were beaten 5-8 by the Whitley Bay Islanders at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday.
The Summer Cup involves 8 teams from across the country playing each other home and away on a league basis, with play offs afterwards for the top teams.
The Wildcats are at home in cup action again next Sunday 14th May when they take on the Blackburn Falcons at Silver Blades Widnes. The game faces off at 4.30pm and admission is free.
Sunday 7th May 2017 – Women’s Premier League
Milton Keynes Falcons 5 – Widnes Wild Women’s Team 5
Period Scores: 0-2, 2-2, 2-1
Shots on Goal: Milton Keynes 33- Widnes 31 (6-7, 13-16, 14-8)
Penalties In Minutes: Milton Keynes 14 – Widnes 4
Leen de Decker 2+0, Katie Hills 2+0, Savannah Sumner 1+0, Amanda Williams 0+2, Lucy Kirkham & Emma Pearson both 0+1
Match Report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)
Photos by Geoff White (www.gw-images.com)