Today the Lions make their final trip to the Silver Blades Rink to play second placed Widnes Wild. Of the three games played against the Wild this season the Lions have taken the points in two and will be looking to get something out of this game. The tally of goals scored, to date, between the Lions and the Wild are even at 8 apiece.
Before the start of the 2015/16 season Scott McKenzie, player coach, of the Wild predicted a conference winning team but then lost one of his major strike force as Filip Supa jumped ship and headed to Deeside Dragons presumably attracted by a better deal from the, now former owners, Red Hockey. Although obviously upset about Supa’s move, having already agreed to stay at the Wild, Scott set about building a solid workmanlike squad with a good crop of Brits and with a leader in Scott who has led by example all of the season with a remarkable scoring rate. I believe he is still leading the scoring in the conference which is testament to his pedigree as a player and a coach.
The Wild are sitting in a strong second place in the Laidler Conference with the Dragons, at the top, still within reach but in reality just that bit too far in front of Widnes. Deeside Dragons require only a couple of wins to wrap up the conference. As with last Saturday against the Dragons the Lions have a somewhat uphill battle to take this one but, given the very spirited performance the very short benched Nottingham team put up against a full strength Deeside team there has to be some confidence going into any game this season.
Last Saturday the Lions headed to Flintshire with just 14 players including the netminder, and came up against a full strength 21 player massively confident Deeside Dragons. I feel sure that when the home side , in front of a big crowd, saw the depleted Nottingham team they looked to inflicting an absolute rout on our boys but those expectations were soon dampened by a resolute Lions team. The Lions set out from the start to cause an upset and took the Dragons totally by surprise by grabbing a couple of quick goals. The Dragons evened the score by the end of the first period. The no nonsense approach by the Lions kept the eventual score to a very creditable 7-5 and from the start no prisoners were taken as the Nottingham team physically challenged the Dragons for the whole of the game. The penalty tally, of course, rose and at one stage the Lions had 7 players cooling their heels in the penalty bench. This penalty bench experience was an opportunity not to be missed as a number of light hearted selfies were taken including some with Deeside supporters. Period Scores: 2-2/2-0/3-3. It is notable that of the 7 goals scored by Deeside that Adrian Palak scored 3 and assisted on 2 whilst the Lions totally nullified the threat from Filip Supa who, for once, did not get a point.
One as to ask how is it that when a short benched Lions are able to intimidate a much stronger top team how the Dragons might fare next season when facing such as Whitley Warriors, Billingham Stars, or other teams who can readily mix skill with a strong physical presence?
Today's face off in Widnes is 5.30pm.