For Sunday night's away game at the National Ice Centre, Wild were without injured Sam Dunford and Joe Greaves. Dan Bracegirdle was ill and Chris Preston along with Bobby Caunce were still unavailable. Nicole Jackson took her place as netminder with Josh Benstead as back up. New signing, Daniel Bullock, made his debut and Pavel Vales took his place in the line up. A good number of Widnes supporters had made the journey to the East Midlands.
In a closely fought first period Wild played a highly effective passing game mainly in the Nottingham end. Wild opened the scoring at 12.02 when a shot was blocked by Hovell and Daniel Bullock followed up to force the puck over the line. Lee Pollitt, Filip Supa and Pavel Vales were all troubling the defence, with the Slovakian in an unaccustomed forward role. Debutant Daniel Bullock fired in several fierce shots and his physical presence was causing problems. At 18.40 a breakaway from Nottingham saw an angled shot saved high by Nicole Jackson and Kasprzak followed up and hit the puck out of the air for the equaliser. In the final minute a Bullock shot was just kept out by
Hovell, as it looked destined for the top corner.
Within two minutes of the restart, a Lee Pollitt check from behind, led to the forward fighting with Ben Wood with Pollitt taking a 2+10. At 24.42 another controverial incident by the Widnes goal saw Tom Jackson tussling with Lion, Reece Glossop. As officials moved in to separate the pair, the home forward continued to resist the officials attention. Jackson took a 2+2 call and Glossop was sent from the game. At 27.51, with Wild on the powerplay, the puck was worked to Callum Ruddick. The big defenceman crashed home a powerful shot to give Widnes a 2- 1 lead. After Supa, Vales and Brown continued to trouble the Lions defence, Nicole Jackson made two great stops from close range shots. She was helpless at 36.05, when Luke Thomas fired in an angled shot from the right, which appeared to be deflected past the netminder to give the Lions an equaliser.
Shortbenched Wild were tiring as the 2nd period drew to a close.
The third period was less than four minutes old, when the Lions defence failed to clear the puck close to the net and the highly influential Lee Pollitt put Wild 3-2 ahead , from just outside the crease.
Widnes went further ahead at 47.54 when Supa and Dipnall combined well on the right. The bearded Dipnall found an unopposed Lee Pollitt on the left and he hammered a powerful angled shot between Hovells pads to give Wild a 4-2 lead.
After Nicole Jackson made a remarkable glove save , she was helpless when an unmarked Ben Wood took a cross ice pass, to score from close in at 54.27. With the game on a knife edge, Widnes broke up the right and Lee Pollitt's low shot was tipped in by Pavel Vales, directly in front of the netminder.
The decisive goal came at a vital time - 54.54. Sadly some of the ill feeling, evident throughout the game, boiled over and Ken Armstrong took 2+2 for holding followed by a roughing call. Lee Pollitt was left prone on the ice and veteran Stuart Parker was sent to the dressing room. After further unsavoury incidents in centre ice -with confusion reigning, the game resumed and Shaun Dipnall had ample time to fire home from in front of the net to give Wild a decisive 6 -3 lead at 59.44. With the clock ticking down. Lions captain Luke Thomas, was controversially sent to the dressing room, bringing an end to a game full of incident and at times, some excellent hockey
For a Wild team, missing five key players, it brought to an end a remarkable weekend - bringing four vital league points. Every player played a vital part as they focussed on a well devised game plan. Nicole Jackson took the MVP, foiling the Nottingham attack repeatedly with bravery and remarkable glove saves.
Wild travel to Blackburn on Saturday ( 17.40 face off) and then host in form Hull Jets ( 18.15 face off) on Sunday, with important league points at stake . One of the biggest crowds of the season is expected for the vital clash.
Report by Dick Gillingham
Photo by Geoff White www.gw-images.co.uk