Monday 11 August 2014

Challenge Match Report: Widnes Wild 5 - Sheffield Spartans 4

Widnes Wild opened their pre season programme with a challenge game against Division One opponents, Sheffield Spartans. Wild paraded a number of close season signings, including Matt Wainwright, new overseas defenceman Pavel Vales and Great Britain Ladies netminder Nicole Jackson. A sizeable crowd welcomed the teams onto the ice ,with the Wild in their new yellow home strip.

The game got off to a scrappy hectic start. As Wild attacked both Shaun Dipnall and Filip Supa cameclose with shots on Matthew Croyle. Sheffield took the lead at 9.31 when an angled shot from Will Barron, flew past debutant netminder Nicole Jackson. Immediately Filip Supa broke away for the Wild, his shot deflected wide. Widnes were starting to attack with more purpose and after Sheffield took a penalty for too many men on the ice, Wild attacked on the right. A pass to Callum Ruddick saw the big defenceman fire a powerful shot which was tipped in by Supa for the equaliser. The period ended with an altercation and a 2 minute roughing penalty against Sheffield.

The 2nd period opened with both sides counter attacking. It was Sheffield who took a 2- 1 lead when a low shot from Manning found the net. A breakaway by Filip Supa in the 27th minute nearly brought the equaliser Widnes were starting to attack well with the final pass often going astray. The Widnes equaliser came at 31.09 when Filip Supa fired home. Sheffield regained the lead at 37.47, a low angled shot from Will Barron on the right, creeping past Jackson. A minute later a home equaliser from Bez Hughes following good work from Ratcliffe and Preston, brought the crowd to their feet.

The final period opened with a series of counter attacks. Widnes were beginning to attack with more purpose and causing Sheffield to clear the zone hurriedly. However against the run of play Sheffield regained the lead at 49.00. A powerful James Maugham angled shot from distance, flew past Nicole Jackson into the bottom right corner. Within three minutes Widnes were back on level terms. Filip Supa was put away on the right by Bobby Caunce and he cut inside to fire past Brandon Stones for his hat trick goal. The game was won for Widnes in the 53rd minute, when a great cross ice pass found debutant Matt Wainwright unmarked on the blue line. His powerful low shot was too much for Stones and gave Wild a 5- 4 lead.

Both teams continued the battle and the final seconds saw a Bobby Caunce shot almost find the net. New signing from Blackburn Hawks, Sam Dunford, took the Wild MVP for a characteristic all action display.

A great start for the Wild , who lost the corresponding game ,against their lofty opponents , 6 - 1 last season. The atmosphere was heightened by new game MC. Vince Bullock , an experienced hand formerly with Manchester Storm.

Wild return to the ice for another home challenge game, when the Bristol Pitbulls from the Southern division make a rare journey North on Sunday August 24th - face off 18.15.

Dick Gillingham
Filip Supa celebrates his hat-trick goal (top)
GB International netminder Nicole Jackson makes a save (bottom)
Photos by Geoff White -