Wild Women Tamed As Falcons Soar To Victory
Widnes Wild Women’s Team 1 – Milton Keynes Falcons 5
Period Scores: 0-1, 0-1, 1-3
Shots on Goal: Widnes 47 – Milton Keynes 40
Penalties in Minutes: Widnes 2 – Milton Keynes 16
Widnes Scoring: Katie Hills 1+0, Abigail Culshaw 0+1
The Widnes Wild Women’s ice hockey team had a disappointing start to their Women’s Premier League season as they crashed to a surprise 1-5 defeat at home to Milton Keynes Falcons at Silver Blades Widnes.
The Wild women were runners up in the league last season and have more or less the same team in place for the new campaign – with the addition of few new faces – but they were given a lesson in finding the back of the net by a useful looking Milton Keynes side who arrived as early season league leaders following a 3-3 win away at Chelmsford in their first game last weekend.
Setting the scoreline aside for a moment, this was actually a very closely contested game overall and very entertaining to watch. Widnes had by far the most possession of the puck in the first period – outshooting the Falcons by 21 to 12 – but it was the visitors who took the lead after 9 minutes.
As the period ticked down, the Wild increased the pressure of the Milton Keynes goal and, in the dying seconds, it looked as if they had finally managed to force home an equaliser but the buzzer for the end of the period sounded just before the puck crossed the goal line and the goal did not count.
The second period was a much closer affair in terms of possession with Widnes making the early running but still not managing to make any significant breakthrough. The first penalty of the game came at 29.36 as a Falcons’ player was called for hooking but Widnes were unable to gain any advantage from the resulting powerplay. Buoyed by their strong defensive performance while a player short, the Milton Keynes team upped their efforts and had the upper hand for much of the rest of the period. They also seemed to be getting all the lucky breaks as, with just 57 seconds to go in the period, the puck took an unfortunate bounce off a Wild defender and looped down onto the stick of an attacker. The Falcons’ forward Elizabeth Archer looped it straight back towards the goal and the puck flew over the despairing grasp of Wild netminder Stephanie Drinkwater and dropped into the back of the net.
Even at 2-0 down, the Wild team looked as if they might be able to drag themselves back in to the game and they spent most of the third period pushing forward in search of that elusive breakthrough goal. Unfortunately, this meant they left space at the back and Milton Keynes hit a third goal with 44.35 on the clock.
The Widnes players will probably have realised that it was not going to be their night when, on 53 minutes and while they had a player advantage on a powerplay after the Falcons had been caught with too many players on the ice during a line change, they conceded a penalty shot which was slotted away by Milton Keynes Canadian player Rachel Piotrowski. The Wild women called a time-out to re-gather their composure but even that backfired as, straight from the re-start, Milton Keynes went straight down the Widnes end and scored again!
At 0-5 down, with less than 5 minutes remaining on the clock and Milton Keynes looking very solid in all areas of the ice, it seemed very unlikely that Widnes would be able to salvage anything in the time remaining. However, the home fans did eventually get something to cheer about when Abigail Culshaw went on a darting run forward and knocked in a perfect cross for last season’s top points scorer Katie Hills to fire in a consolation goal at 57.35.
A bizarre occurrence just 40 seconds from the final buzzer saw Falcons’ Archer pick up a 10 minute misconduct penalty for abuse of an official but she returned to the ice after the match to pick up the MVP award for the Falcons while the Wild award went to Sarah Roberts who was playing in her first ever competitive game.
The Widnes Wild women’s team are away at Chelmsford in two weeks’ time and their next home game is against Slough Phantoms on Sunday 23rd October.
The full list of Women’s Premier League fixtures for the 2016/17 season is as follows (home games in bold):
11th September – home v Milton Keynes Falcons (lost 1-5)
25th September – away @ Chelmsford Cobras
23rd October – home v Slough Phantoms
30th October – home v Nottingham Vipers
27th November – home v Kingston Diamonds
11th December: away @ Nottingham Vipers
8th January: away @ Streatham Storm
15th January: home v Streatham Storm
4th February: away @ Slough Phantoms
12th February: home v Chelmsford Cobras
7th May: away @ Milton Keynes Falcons
27th May: away @ Kingston Diamonds
All home games face off at 5.30pm – and admission is free!