Widnes Wild 2 Nottingham Lions 2
The Nottingham Lions were made to work hard in their first ever trip to the new Silver Blades rink in Widnes on Sunday evening, taking home a positive away point against an ever-improving Wild side.
The Lions were keen to get back to winning ways at the first time of asking after last Sunday’s home defeat to runaway league leaders Deeside Dragons, whilst the Wild we’re be keen to impress in front of a bumper crowd, in what was only their second home game of the season.
After being unable to build on their four-game winning streak last weekend, Nottingham were well aware that they had not lost two consecutive games since way back in March 2012 and certainly did their utmost on the night to keep that particular record intact.
Matt Bradbury’s side were missing a number of key players including the likes of Mikey Rose, Chris Allen, Cameron Good and Jack Baveystock, whilst American Luke Branin and Pole Slawomir Kasprzak were given the nod for the two available import spaces.
The Lions were also unable to call on their junior contingent as back-up, as they were on duty with the club’s Under-18 side.
An uneventful first period saw the home side draw first blood after only two minutes, Bobby Caunce fired a fierce shot straight down the middle past a helpless Nottingham goalie Alan Levers, who could only watch the puck fly past him and nestle into his goal.
It took just three minutes of the second period for the Lions to get themselves back on level terms, thanks to a quick shot in front of the net from young forward Dan Hazeldine.
Seconds later, the promising youngster almost put the visitors ahead after on a one on one with Wild keep Stephen Gilmartin but this time the custodian came out the victor with an excellent stop.
As the period wore on, the game slowly started to open up and there were chances aplenty for both sides but a combination of unlucky bounces and good netminding ensured the final period would begin with nothing separating the two teams.
The game really burst into life in the final twenty minutes and saw Hazeldine claim his second of the night with two minutes gone.
The Lions then dominated large parts of the play for the next ten minutes but were unable to increase their advantage thanks to the heroics of Gilmartin, who would later be deservedly awarded the Wild’s man of the match.
However, the home side refused to give in and spurred on by their vociferous support, they found another equaliser with eight minutes left, Caunce again was in the right place to shoot the puck past Levers, much to the Widnes support’s delight.
To both the team’s credit, neither looked happy to settle for a point as each side kept pushing on for a winning goal. Nottingham had the better of the final chances, Gilmartin once again proving to be a thorn in the Lions’ paw, pulling off three outstanding saves in the final five minutes, helping to ensure the spoils were shared at the final buzzer.
A tricky double-header now awaits the Lions next weekend, beginning with a trip to Ice Sheffield to take on the Senators on Saturday afternoon (4.30pm), before they host Hull Stingrays at the National Ice Centre on the Sunday evening (7.30pm). Ticket details for Sunday’s game are available by clicking here.
Dan Hazeldine 2+0, Ben Wood 2+0, Robert Perks 0+1.
Period Scores: 1st 1-0, 2nd 0-1, 3rd 1-1.
Shots: 1st 12-12, 2nd 12-18, 3rd 15-15. Total: 39-45.
Penalty Mins: 1st 4-2, 2nd 0-4, 3rd 4-2. Total: 8-8.
Lions MOTM: Dan Hazeldine.