The first period saw both teams involved in an end to end game. Widnes took the lead at 5.25 when presssure in the Nottingham end saw Chris Preston and Geoof Wigglesworth feed the puck to Ken Armstrong for a tap in at the right post. Despite plenty of possession, the final pass was just missing for Widnes. Strong forechecking from the Lions forwards made it difficult for Widnes to break out. Nottingham equalised at 13.06, when a breakout down the right saw Connor Glossop take a pass and beat Greg Ruxton in a one on one. In the last two minutes of the period Filip Supa and Shaun Dipnall both went close to restoring the Wild lead.
In an evenly contested start to the second period errors in defence nearly cost both teams dearly, Ruxton and Hovell both making key close range saves. Overseas star Ivo Dimitrijevs was causing lots of problems for the Wild defence. In a Wild breakaway, the home side regained the lead when a fierce shot was blocked by Hovell but the puck bounced out to Filip Supa, who fired home to give Wild the 2- 1 lead. A spell of dominance saw some constructive attacking from Wild. In the 37th minute Ben Brown broke clear for Wild but his final shot was well saved. In the last two minutes of the period, several key saves from Ruxton kept Wilds slender lead.With just a goal separating the teams, spectators were treated to an enthralling ,end to end, third period contest. Ruxton kept the Nottingham forwards at bay but in three attacks, first Supa with an attempted tip in, Brown and Pollitt with a shot that rattled the post all came close for Wild. After a great Caunce breakaway and shot in the 54th minute Nottingham broke to the other end and Greg Ruxton made a stunning glove save to keep Wild in the lead. After a Lions time out, Nottingham drew their netminder Hovell and within seconds, the Wild trio of Caunce, Supa and Dipnall had engineered an opening on the right for Shaun Dipnall to tap into an empty net at 59.17 to put Wild 3 - 1 ahead.
This was a hard won victory, with Pollitt, Caunce, Supa, Brown and Dipnall all working hard to ensure a Widnes victory. Greg Ruxton took the MVP for Widnes - repeatedly foiling the Lions forwards. A hardworking young Lions made it difficult to bring the puck out of defence and again a number of good chances were spurned.
Report by Dick Gillingham
Photo: Widnes netminder Grex Ruxton receives the MVP award. Photo by Geoff White - www.gw-images.co.uk