MATCH REPORT: Wild 5 â€“ 1 Lions
Following on from last week’s great effort against Deeside, Widnes Wild produced the result of the season on Sunday night against the reigning league champions, Nottingham Lions. The team stuck to a solid game plan, with a considered passing game and solid defence. It was a reminder of the early season form.
Widnes struck first within the first minute, when leading scorer Filip Supa fired a terrific angled shot into the top left corner of the Nottingham net. Both teams looked intent on an open fast game and it came as no surprise when Supa struck again in the 16th minute. Widnes broke out with Bobby Caunce feeding the Slovakian forward and his low shot beat veteran netminder Alan Levers. A serious facial injury to Nottingham defenceman, Joseph Steeples, caused by a flying puck, brought the period to an early close for the ice to be resurfaced.
The second period saw two further goals. Filip Supa got his hat trick goal in the 28th minute following good approach work from Shaun Dipnall and Bobby Caunce. Nottingham certainly stepped up a gear in the second period with Wild’s outstanding netminder Greg Ruxton making a series of saves from point blank rage. The Lions, desperate to get back into the game,had long periods around the Widnes net. They were met by fierce resistance from the Wild defence, who probably had their best game of the season as a unit. Bobby Caunce added to the Wild tally in the 33rd minute when he got the puck home from a Shaun Dipnall pass.
As the third period opened, Wild, enjoying a four goal lead, looked intent on maintaining control of the game to see out a comprehensive victory. A final fifth goal had a bizarre element about it. A shot from the left took a strange deflection, the puck looping over the netminder to give Shaun Dipnall a well deserved goal and take much of the pressure from the hardworking Widnes team. With time running down, a serious hand injury to Filip Supa – a suspected dislocated and broken thumb – took the shine from a great Wild team effort. Lions made a netminder change in the 54th minute, Thomas Hovell taking over from Alan Levers.
With just 17 seconds remaining, Nottingham finally troubled the scorer with a Lee Holland goal. It deprived Greg Ruxton of a 57shot shut out. However his huge contribution deservedly won him the MVP.
Coach Mark Gillingham can feel pleased with this fine performance from his team.
“It felt like a performance that came about as a result of weeks of hard work. We’ve focused on certain elements in training, and everything looked as if it finally clicked into place tonight. Even though we were relatively short benched, every single player knew they had a job to do, and for virtually the whole game they did that job fantastically. It was a real shame that we couldn’t just hold out for another 17 seconds to put the icing on the cake, but you can’t really take anything away from the performance throughout the rest of the game. We’ve just got to make sure it isn’t a one off now, and that we move forward from here.”
A big crowd was again present to see the best team effort of the season, achieved despite the absence of several key players.
Wild are at home again on Sunday when Hull Jets are the visitors with an 18.15 face off.