MATCH REPORT: Lions 7 – 5 Wild

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In one of the strange quirks of fate in the fixture list Widnes Wild had to travel to the National Ice Centre Nottingham the day after taking the points in Hull.

They faced last season’s champions, Nottingham Lions in what is a notoriously difficult fixture. A sizeable, enthusiastic crowd greeted the teams. The home side took full advantage of a man advantage scoring inside a minute – Filip Supa having taken a debateable minor for charging. Further goals in the 9th and 14th minutes saw Nottingham well ahead on the scoreboard and a frustrated Wild team puzzled after some good attacking plays. Their third goal saw the giant American defenceman, Chris Allen, fire home a piledriver from the blue line. The star has appeared for the Florida Panthers in the World’s top league, the NHL.

Coach Mark Gillingham used the interval to organise his troops and a determined Wild took control to win the 2nd period. Within 2 minutes of the restart Filip Supa had scored and Wild ended the period in the ascendancy and with a great goal from young defenceman Troy Evans. He blasted home, after good work from the ever influential Ben Simister and Filip Supa. After a difficult start to the game, Wild had taken the second period 2-1.

The third period was rivetting stuff with the two teams trading goals. Twice Widnes got within a goal of the Lions but despite intense pressure, could not force the equaliser. Although the sustained pressure came from Widnes, Nottingham hit effectively on the break. Widnes scored twice inside a minute with well worked goals from Bobby Caunce and Andy Clark. Filip Supa hit a fifth and as Widnes battled to equalise, Nottingham took advantage of a powerplay opportunity to wrap the game up at 7-5. Widnes had tied the final period 3-3. Bobby Caunce took the MVP for the visitors but must have been pushed close by Ben Simister, Ben Brown and Filip Supa.

The weekend illustrated the huge potential of the young Wild team, and Head Coach Mark Gillingham was delighted with the weekend’s efforts:
‘It’s been a really positive weekend for us. We’ve been to one of the most difficult rinks in the league to play in and come away with a win, and we’ve travelled to the current title holders and given them a real fright in a game that we could, and maybe should, have picked up at least a point from. We’re really frustrating teams at the moment, particularly with how we attack, and it’s going to yield results. Nottingham ended up having to change the way they play completely to try and throw us off our game, so seeing that from last year’s champions is testament to the respect we’ve already earned in just over a month in the league. The effort the players are putting in is fantastic, and when we’ve had a bit more time together, I’m sure that effort will translate into more results like the Hull win than those ‘nearly’ games like in Nottingham.’

Next weekend Wild travel to Coventry on Sunday to face the Blaze with a late face off (8.15pm). The home team, relegated last season, have already defeated some of the top sides in the Laidler Conference. With the spectator seating about to be installed at Widnes, interest is mounting in the opening home fixture on Sunday October 27th ( 6.30 pm.). Blackburn Eagles, will provide the opposition, in what is sure to be a thrilling encounter between North West rivals, played in front of a big crowd.

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