REPORT: Dragons 9 – 5 Wild
Wild opened their NIHL season with a short road trip to meet the Dragons at the Deeside Leisure Centre in Queensferry. Again the squad were desperately short of defensive personnel due to holidays, suspension and work committments.
First line centre Bobby Caunce therefore found himself playing in an unaccustomed defensive role. A big noisy Widnes contingent in the main stand welcomed the team onto the ice. Widnes were in their usual white home strip with Dragons in their black ‘third’ uniforms. Dragons took the runners up spot in the league last season.
The local ‘derby’ burst into life in the first minute when Wild’s Chris Preston broke away down the right and slotted an accurate pass to the stick of Filip Supa. He calmly slotted the puck past Ed Begley to put Widnes a goal up. In the sixth minute the Dragons shocked Widnes with two goals in a minute. First Shaun Kippin fired home from a James Parsons pass. His goal was soon followed by a Chris Jones ‘special’ assisted by Peter Gazda. Jones has just returned from a season with Telford, Wild battled back to equalise in the 9th minute, Joe Charlton slotting home after good work from newcomers Mark Higson and Marc Etherington. Etherington was making his debut in defence, after his move from Manchester.
With both teams counter attacking, it took a bit of magic from Dragons’ overseas star Dan Soderberg-Andersson. The big Swede combined twice with Shaun Kippin to finish in grand style in the 11th and 17th minutes.
A determined Widnes side came back into the game to dominate play in the second period. In the 31st minute new signing Shaun Dippnall fired home from a Bobby Caunce pass. Despite constant pressure an equaliser would not come but the team went to the dressing room having taken the second period 1-0.
The next goal was always going to be vital and it was the Dragons Simon Furnival who stunned the away support just 25 seconds into the period. They went further ahead when James Parsons got his customary goal with an angled shot from the right.Parsons had previously been involved in a goalmouth altercation with Craig Williams, when Williams took exception to a charge on Wild netminder Tom McDonald. Back came the Wild and it was former Dragons favourite, Ben Simister, who found the net from a Filip Supa pass. A further unassisted goal from Simister brought the scores closer still.
With the game finely balanced it was that man Soderberg-Andersson who finally took it out of Widnes’s reach with two beautifully finished goals in the 50th minute. As in the previous Manchester challenge game it was the outstanding ability of an overseas star who swung the game away from the Wild. Youngster Jack Meadows added a final Dragons goal in the 55th minute.
Ben Simister took the MVP for Widnes after an all action display.
A deflated Wild team returned to the dressing room but Head Coach Mark Gillingham was far from discouraged.
“It’s obviously disappointing to come away from a game without any points, but we’ve got a lot of positives we can take from tonight. We showed again that we can score goals. In the three games we’ve played so far, we’ve scored 11 goals and had nine different goalscorers, so we’ve got depth in that area. Defence is an area where we obviously need to do some work, and we’re still looking to try and bring in a few defensive players. When you head into a game against a team as strong as Deeside with only two experienced defenders, it’s going to be tough, so in the next fortnight that will be an facet of our game that we work on a lot in practice. The disappointment in the changing room after the game was actually very encouraging. A lot of our players played on teams last season who would have been ecstatic to leave Deeside only losing by four goals, so it just emphasised a shift in attitude that has taken place over the summer. I’m certainly not worried about us bouncing back, because every player we have has a desire to win – now that will make the game in two weeks another interesting one.”