The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild got back to winning ways after the disappointing set-backs of recent weeks with a 10-0 shut out victory at home to Bradford Bulldogs at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday.
This was a very entertaining game to watch and didn’t feel like a particularly one-sided affair, despite the final scoreline. It was end to end hockey throughout and, despite being inferior in number, the Bradford team battled hard right to the final buzzer.
In fact, it took almost 10 minutes of the first period for the Wild to break down the Bradford defence when Mikey Gilbert combined well with Tom Jackson and former Bulldogs player Matty Barlow to open the scoring.
A second goal followed less than two minutes later from Nick Manning and the Wild looked to be on their way. They were helped somewhat in their task by a Bradford player picking up a 2 minute penalty for charging to which was added an extra 2 minute penalty for misconduct.
Wild captain Simon Offord fired in a powerplay goal just 13 seconds into the first penalty and then player coach Ollie Barron punished the second penalty with another powerplay goal to give Widnes a 4-0 lead at the end of the first period.
A goal from Wild’s Bobby Caunce just 2 minutes into the second period put Widnes 5-0 ahead and it looked as if the floodgates might quickly open. However, Bradford defended very well indeed and kept the scoring down to that one solitary goal for the period.
Once it became clear that the Bradford team were not going to win the game, however, they did try to start a few niggly altercations which, to their credit, the Wild players did not rise to and, in fact, Widnes went on to complete the match penalty-free.
The match officials did a very good job in calming these situations, which kept the penalty count down and enabled the game to continue with 5 players against 5 on the ice for most of the time. Bulldogs’ “enforcer” Reece Cairney-Witter was a notable beneficiary of this early Christmas spirit when he might otherwise have been banished from the game for making some pantomime villain gestures towards the Widnes bench!
The floodgates did finally open goal-wise in the third period, kicked off by another powerplay goal – this time from Nick Manning just 90 seconds from the restart. Almost exactly a minute later, Shaun Dippnall scored to make it 7-0 to the Wild and a second goal of the night for Bobby Caunce made it 8-0 with some 15 minutes left to play in the game.
Recent signing Kyle Haslam scored his third goal in four games since joining the Wild from Blackburn in mid-November in the 58th minute and the scoring was rounded off by Mikey Gilbert – who went on to receive the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award for his 2+3 contribution to the game – with just 25 seconds left on the clock.
As it was the Wild’s last home game before Christmas, the club staged their annual “Air The Bear” teddy toss. 108 teddies were tossed onto the ice during the period break and they will be distributed to local charities and good causes.
There was also a special Christmas dance display by the Wild’s cheerleaders from the Widnes based Eclipse Street Dance Cheer studios.
After the win over Bradford, Widnes player coach Ollie Barron said:
“A much needed 2 points. Bradford are difficult opposition, they have some skilled players and will take points from teams higher in the table.”
“I was very pleased with yesterday’s performance. We started well and played for a full 60 minutes, something we haven’t done much in recent weeks. The most pleasing fact was our discipline as we didn’t take a single penalty all night, which just shows how we can keep our momentum and punish teams. Our powerplay was also productive last night, something I have been keen on us to improve on. I was also pleased for Matt Croyle who made some big saves to keep and earn his shutout.”
“Thanks for the fans for coming out in numbers, in the bad weather, also Bradford Bulldogs for agreeing to travel and for the game to go ahead, as the league saw many postponements.”
“We now turn our attention to Sutton Sting next week away in Sheffield. It’s another massive game for us and I hope to see as many fans over in Sheffield supporting the boys.”
The Wild’s next home game is on Sunday 7th January 2018 when they entertain Altrincham Aces at Silver Blades Widnes.
Before that, they have two away trips to round off this year – with visits to iceSheffield to face Sutton Sting this Sunday 17th December and to Bradford to revisit the Bulldogs on Saturday 23rd December – and then a new year opener away to the Deeside Dragons N2 team on Saturday 6th January.
Sunday 10th December 2017 – Laidler Division
Widnes Wild 10 – Bradford Bulldogs 0
Period Scores: 4-0, 1-0, 5-0
Shots on Goal: Widnes 53 – Bradford 20
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 0 – Bradford 10
Widnes Scoring: Mikey Gilbert 2+3, Bobby Caunce 2+1, Nick Manning 2+1, Ollie Barron 1+3, Simon Offord and Shaun Dippnall both 1+1, Kyle Haslam 1+0, Stuart Brittle 0+3, Matty Barlow 0+2, Andrew Turner, Pavel Vales, Tom Jackson, Mike Mawer all 0+1
Match Officials: Andrew Miller – Referee, Tadeusz Kolarz – Linesman, Joseph Baggaley – Linesman
Match report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk
Photos by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com