The Lions take their first trip up to Widnes to face the Wild who no doubts will be looking to reverse the result when the Widnes team came down to Nottingham a couple of weeks ago. On that occasion the Lions managed a solid 4-2 win despite having to chase the game for much of the time.
As in the past games between these two have proved close affairs but with changes in the Wild’s personnel including a number of very experienced players from the Sheffield Spartans recruited during the off season it looked as though they were certainly icing a much stronger squad this time round. The Wild’s goals for this season were very obvious from the start and player/coach Ollie Barron made no bones about the ambitions that he had for his team and they started the season well with some strong wins but then suffered a number of reversals. The Eagles appeared to be the Wild’s Achilles heal as they lost both home games to a very well organised Blackburn team but the Wild put that to rights with a 1-3 result when they last met and they appear to have some momentum once again.
Ahead of the game Lions Head Coach Matt Bradbury spoke to nottinghamlions.co.uk "We always look forward to visiting Widnes it's a great place to play and we love playing at a rink with a big atmosphere. We have changed our approach to games in several ways this season and our style of hockey compliments this. We are still on a learning journey and our players are getting better every time they step on the ice both at training and games. All the work that everyone puts in both on and off the ice really shows and all this with minimal recruitment in the off season."
Promotion is the eventual goal of the Widnes organisation and resources have been made available, one must assume, given the number of players that have to travel to train and play, therefore for some of the Wild’s team every game that they play is by definition an away game.
Since the reversals the Wild have strengthened with the addition of Simon Offord, a big presence on their defensive unit who might have had a significant impression when they finally defeated the Blackburn Eagles.
Ollie Barron as the defeats occurred did make it plain that any of the recognised top teams in the conference can and will take points off each other over the season, but looking at the Bradford Bulldogs v Sheffield Senators result last Saturday one could say it’s not only the top teams that are capable, on the night to take points as well the ‘Dogs’ putting nine goals past the high flying Senators.
As it presently stands the Blackburn Eagles remain at the top of the Laidler Conference with the Sheffield Senators in second place. The Wild, having won their last two games, have moved from fifth to third place in the conference and the Lions are in fourth place just one point behind the Wild going into this weekend’s game.
Without a doubt this is going to be, yet again, a tough outing for the Nottingham Lions on the smaller ice pad at Widnes but they do have the resources to frustrate teams and come away with a point or two, we shall see. Face off at Silver Blades is 5.30pm.