Tuesday 12 November 2019

NIHL National Division: Leeds Chiefs 1 - Swindon Wildcats 4 (Played at Widnes)

Team warm ups - Photo by Paul Breeze

National Division ice hockey made a rare appearance in Widnes on Sunday as the Leeds Chiefs played a home game against Swindon Wildcats at the Planet Ice Rink.

Leeds are a new team to ice hockey this season and, as their new home rink at Elland Road is not yet complete, they are having to play "home" games at other venues to avoid a fixture backlog later in the season.

This was the first ice hockey match at national league level to be played at the Widnes rink since Manchester Phoenix played Swindon there back in January 2017 and was, therefore, of interest to many hockey fans from across the country, as well as local Wild fans.

With the Swindon Wildcats leading the National Division at the start of the weekend and the Chiefs sitting bottom with just 3 wins and just 7 points from 13 games, it always looked likely that this game would see an away win. Swindon took the lead on 12 minutes but the Leeds Chiefs gave as good as they got and honours were otherwise pretty much equal in terms of possession and shots of goal in the first period.

The second period was just as entertaining to watch, with end-to-end hockey, although the Wildcats out-shot Leeds by 19 to 10. Just as it looked as if the period would play out goal-less, Swindon fired in 2 quick-fire goals within 30 seconds of each other in the 39th minute and this handed them a huge advantage, taking a 0 – 3 lead into the second period break.

Leeds finally managed to find the back of the net in the 49th minute, with a fine strike from Radek Meidl but that was as good as it got for the home side. Swindon restored the 3-goal advantage 3 minutes later and the score remained 1 - 4 at the final buzzer.

The Leeds Chiefs have two more "home" games scheduled to be played at the Planet Ice Arena in Blackburn during November and then hope to have their home Leeds rink ready to stage matches from December onwards.