Five Star Performance At Hull Keeps Wild Top Of Table
Wild’s Nick Manning (#19) scored a hat trick against Hull on Sunday and Stuart Brittle (#24) added 3 assists. (Photo by Fiona Haggar)
The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild maintained their position at the top of the Laidler Division following an eventful weekend of North 2 ice hockey overall and a crucial 1-5 win away at Hull Jets on Sunday night.
The Jets had temporarily leapfrogged the Wild and moved back to the top of the of the table on Saturday night following their penalty shot win away at Bradford Bulldogs and, with both teams locked together on 32 points from 21 games, the encounter at Hull Arena was real “must win” game for both teams.
The first period was incredibly tense with the Wild narrowly out-shooting the Jets by 11 to 9 but with neither team managing to find the back of the net.
The breakthrough came after 6 minutes of the second period when Nick Manning picked up a rebound off the Hull netminder and fired the Wild into the lead. Six minutes later, Shaun Dippnall doubled the advantage, squeezing the puck around the post and past several defenders to give Widnes an important 0-2 lead heading into the last period.
The hosts out-shot the Wild in both the second and third periods but Matt Croyle was a rock in goal and the Widnes defence battled hard to keep the Jets’ attack at bay.
Nick Manning scored his second goal of the game – and the Wild’s third – after 47 minutes and two more goals – from Ollie Barron and Manning, again, for his hat trick – just 90 seconds apart on 50.47 and 52.17 gave Widnes what would turn out to be an unassailable 0-5 lead.
The latter stages of the game became somewhat niggly with several altercations breaking out between the teams. At 54.12, Hull forward Harry Bridges ploughed unnecessarily into Widnes netminder Croyle – after the Jets attack had already broken down and the puck had long been cleared – and Wild defenders Dan Bracegirdle and Mike Mawer both waded in to protect him. The ensuing scuffles – including a “second bout” for Bracegirdle with a different Hull player – saw three Wild players sent to the penalty box and two Hull players “sin-binned” as well.
Things erupted again at 57.46 when Wild’s Shaun Dippnall got involved in a slashing exchange with Hull’s Kieran Beach and then a fight with the Jets’ Cameron King. This saw him banished with 2+2 for the fight and a match penalty for the slash, with King getting 2+2 for roughing and Beach taking a 2-minute slashing penalty.
A tripping call on the Wild’s Stuart Brittle saw Widnes head into the last minute of the game with as many players in the penalty box as actually on the ice and the Hull team made the most of their 5-on-3 powerplay with the Laidler Division’s leading scorer Richard Haggar slotting away a consolation goal with 57 seconds left on the clock.
However, that was as good as it got for the home team and the Wild came away with an important 1-5 victory.
After the game, Widnes head coach Ollie Barron said:
“This was a great win for the Wild with a much-needed 2 points to keep us well in the mix at the right end of the table.”
“We played a disciplined game for 60 minutes and it is vital that we remain focussed for each game as the league table is so tight right now. Hull are a difficult team to play – especially on their big ice pad and I felt the points were well deserved with each player giving their all and sticking to our systems.”
“Bez Hughes picked up the Man of the Match award. I think he deserves a special mention as I use him in both forward and defence. It must be difficult to be constantly switching positions, however, he stuck to his job well and worked hard for his team-mates.”
“We have another two big games next weekend, away in Sheffield to face the Sting, which is another difficult game, and then home to Bradford, who have proven they work hard after taking points from us before Christmas.”
“A special mention again to all the Wild fans who made the trip to Hull – I thank you for your continued support.”
The Wild’s win puts them top of the league with 34 points from 22 games. Hull drop down to third place following Sunday’s defeat, remaining on 32 points, and have been overtaken by Altrincham Aces who won two games at the weekend. They also have 34 points but have played one game more than Widnes also have an inferior playing record in games between the two sides this season, which is the method used by the league to separate teams on the same number of points.
Other Laidler Division games at the weekend saw Telford Tigers pick up two wins to move up into 4th place in the table. They now also have 32 points but have played more games than any other team in the title race. One of their victories came against Sutton Sting who they beat 4-3 in sudden death overtime. The Sting were one of the favourites for the league title at the start of the season and they have games in hand over all the other teams.
Widnes play Sutton for the 4th and final time this Saturday away at iceSheffield – 4.30 pm face off. The Wild have the upper hand in encounters between the two teams so far this season, with two regular wins and one overtime win, and a victory would be a huge boost to their title ambitions.
The Wild are next at home on Sunday 21st January 2017 when they entertain the Bradford Bulldogs at Silver Blades Widnes in a 5.30pm face-off game.
Following the Wild game on Sunday, the Widnes-based Halton Huskies recreational team have a home game against the Kingston City Knights from Hull. Face off is at 8.30pm and admission is free.
Sunday 14th January 2018 – Laidler Division
Hull Jets 1 – Widnes Wild 5
Period Scores: 0-0, 0-2, 1-3
Shots on Goal: Hull 39 – Widnes 36 (9-11, 15-14, 15-11)
Penalties In Minutes: Hull 38 – Widnes 53
Widnes Scoring: Nick Manning 3+1, Ollie Barron 1+3, Shaun Dippnall 1+0, Stuart Brittle 0+3, Mikey Gilbert & Thomas Ratcliffe both 0+1
Match Officials: Juris Susters – Referee, Emma Sanders – Linesman, Wayne Jenkins – Linesman
Match report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk
Photos by Fiona Haggar
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