The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild ice hockey team confirmed their place in the end of season play-offs after a narrow 4-3 overtime defeat away to north-west rivals Altrincham Aces on Saturday.
The point that they receive for drawing 3-3 at the end of the regulation 60 minutes playing time means that they are now guaranteed at least a top four finish, while the Aces need to win their last game and hope that Telford Tigers – who are currently in 4th place – slip up in their remaining games to have a chance of joining them in the season finale which takes place at Planet Ice Widnes over the weekend of 14th and 15th April.
Games between Widnes and Altrincham are always robust and entertaining encounters due to the close proximity of the two clubs and the regular interchange of players over the years – and this was no exception.
The first period was incredibly close and the Aces took the lead in the 13th minute, doubling their advantage just a minute later, before the Wild finally got onto the score-sheet with a strike from player/ coach Ollie Barron just thirty seconds after that.
The Aces scored again in the dying seconds of the first period but this goal was mired in controversy as the puck flew just under the crossbar and bounced straight out again. The Wild players argued that the whole of the puck hadn’t entered the goal – and even the slowest of action replays leave some doubt as to whether it actually did or not – but the referee decided that it had and the goal stood, handing the Aces a 3-1 lead at the first break.
The Wild struck back straight after the restart with a power-play goal from Nick Manning firing in through a crowd of players just 50 seconds into the second period and they drew level with a goal from Shaun Dippnall on 34 minutes.
The remaining stages were incredibly tense, with both teams trying hard to edge ahead in what was a very finely balanced game. Although there were numerous chances for both sides, that turned out to be the last goal in normal time.
An unfortunate incident with some 6 minutes left to play saw Widnes deprived of influential forward Mikey Gilbert as the former Aces’ player disputed a referee’s call a little too strongly and was handed a hefty misconduct penalty, which left the Wild shorthanded for the closing stages of the game.
They managed to keep the Aces out and the game ended at 3-3 after 60 minutes. An additional “overtime period” followed to determine an overall winner with 3 players icing on each side and the deciding “golden goal” was scored by Altrincham with 2.07 gone on the clock.
After the game, Wild player coach Ollie Barron said:
“I thought it was a good game – we didn’t start well enough, however, but responded well. It was disappointing the lose in OT but that’s hockey.”
“Altrincham started the game very quick and physical and I thought that we only started to play our game when we went 2-0 down. We played some nice hockey in the second and third periods but the game itself was very disjointed with lots of penalties called. We had a big Penalty Kill in the last 6 minutes of the game but, unfortunately went on to lose in OT.”
“The overtime point confirms our playoff qualification, where we will be looking to defend our playoff trophy success from last season.”
“The visit of Sheffield this coming weekend, will be another tough test and one I will be looking to use in preparation for the playoffs. This league has certainly improved in standard since last season, and it shows the level of competition with both Sheffield and Aces missing out on the playoffs after both qualifying last season. We will be ready for the Sheffield game and look forward to our last regular home game of the season in front of our fans.”
The Wild play their last home game of the regular season this Sunday 25th March when they take on the Sheffield Senators at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off.
The Widnes Wild women’s team picked up their first home point of the season in a thrilling 4-4 draw against the Bracknell Firebees in the Women’s’ Premier League at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The game was very close throughout and the score stood at 1-1 at the end of the first period and 2-2 at the end of the second.
The Firebees took a 2-goal lead in the third period, leaving the Wild women with lots to do in the last 10 minutes. The Wild’s Katie Hills scored two sensational goals for the Wild – giving her a hat-trick on the night – to tie the score with 5 minutes left, but try as they might, the home side were unable to find a late winner.
That was the Wild women’s last home game of the season. They have two away games left to play – against Milton Keynes Falcon on 15th April and Chelmsford Cobras on 6th May.
The Halton Huskies recreational team beat the Coventry Spitfires 10-5 in an entertaining challenge match at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The game was very close in the first two periods with the score standing at 2-3 to the Spitfires after the first period and 5-5 after the second. The Huskies hit 5 unanswered goals in the last 20 minutes to run away with game and Josh Grocutt was the top scorer overall with 5 goals.
Saturday 17th March 2018 – Laidler Division
Altrincham Aces 4 – Widnes Wild 3 (Overtime Win)
Period Scores: 3-1, 0-2, 0-0, 1-0
Shots on Goal: Aces 35 – Widnes 42
Penalties In Minutes: Aces 28 – Widnes 73
Widnes Scoring: Ollie Barron 1+1, Nick Manning 1+1, Shaun Dippnall 1+0, Stuart Brittle & Andrew Turner both 0+1
Match Officials: Richard Fraley – Referee, Ben Pilbrow – Linesman, Krzysztof Malek – Linesman