PREVIEW: Deeside Dragons
Widnes Wild’s first ever competitive game will take place this Sunday against title chasers Deeside Dragons.
Deeside had a very strong 2012/2013 campaign, where they played the key role of “will they? won’t they?” While constantly battling for the top spot with Nottingham which would guarantee them promotion to the, what was NIHL1, the occasional slip up in results even raised the question of whether they would finish second for the play-off position. But with their strong battling side, they held onto second position as Nottingham stormed their way to the top of the table, and Deeside ended up losing out in the play-offs to Coventry, who later decided to join the ‘lower’ division anyway.
Dragons recieved a boost from the mid-season arrival of the talented Jordan Bannon who pitched in 20 goals, and 14 assists within the 13 games he played. While Jordan is yet to commit where he’ll be playing this season, if he plays this season, Deeside have strengthened what was already a strong team. After losing a couple of forwards, they have brought in an import from Sweden, Dan Soderberg Anderson along with ex-youth Flintshire players Michael Jones and Chris Jones.
Their season will start on Saturday as they travel to Hull to take on the Stingrays before heading back to North Wales to prepare for their home game against our very own Widnes Wild, who will be skating out in their white home strip.
Head Coach Mark Gillingham feels he may have enough information to get something out of the first ever derby game between the two sides;
“It’s a bit of a ‘baptism of fire’ for us, in terms of a first competitive fixture. Not only are we starting with a local derby against one of the teams who are probably a favourite for the league title, but we have to do it twice in the space of a fortnight. Just as two challenge games helped us to focus our attention where it was required, these first two league fixtures against the Dragons will set our stall out for how we perform in the league.
I watched the majority of the Deeside against the Manchester Minotaurs at the weekend, just to see how their performance against higher level opponents compared to ours, and they looked strong for most of the match. They have managed to keep hold of most of the squad that took them to the promotion play-offs last season, so they’re going to be a good team, as you’d expect.
From watching the game though, and also spending quite a while chatting to the head coach of a Coventry team that defeated them in the play-offs last season, I’ve identified a few areas we’ll be looking to capitalise on to try and get as much from the two matches as we can.”
In terms of team news, we’re only aware that we’ll be missing Calum Ruddick and Dan Etherington for the clash which will be a miss to the Defence but the team will be welcoming Shaun Dippnall, announced yesterday, to the ice for the first time.
We are looking forward to seeing any familiar faces supporting the Wild at Deeside this Sunday, when the puck will drop at Deeside Leisure Centre at 18:40pm. Admission is £5.00 for the game.