The Nottingham Vipers travelled to Cheshire for their first away game of the 17/8 season and emerged victorious against the Widnes Wild with a hard fought victory, returning to Nottingham with a 5-3 score line. Vipers were without several key players, and coupled with an in-game injury to Amy Robinson meant that they were pushed to the limit against the superior bench size of Widnes, but each player dug in deep to give Nottingham the victory they deserved.
Vipers started the first period strongly in all three zones, outplaying their opposition and outshooting them 19 shots to 10. As the scoring chances came, so did the goals with Megan Rathbone putting her first of the game away at 8:34. More was to come just over a minute later at 9:52, when Vipers youngster Madison Wright continued her stella start to the season with a well worked goal. Vipers quickly saw their lead cut at 10:38 when their defensive coverage broke down enabling Widnes to score through traffic. This only spurred on the team as they continued to ask questions of the Widnes goalie, with Megan Rathbone again being rewarded for her prowess around net at 16:11. This third goal saw rookie Laura Richmond pick up her first point of the 2017-18 campaign, which was no less than she deserved with her 100% commitment to the Vipers cause.
During the second period Nottingham decided to push the self-destruct button. Perhaps the short bench and slow ice took their toll, combined with Widnes upping their game which left Nottingham at times found wanting. Mistakes and lacklustre play saw Widnes pull to within one, and they soon had the game tied up at 34:30 with a shorthanded goal following a netminder error. The tie was broken less than a minute later with Megan Rathbone completing her hatrick at 35:19 with a well worked play.
An ice cut for the third period gave the Vipers weary legs the jump they needed. Megan Rathbone quickly restored the two goal lead at 41:25, and the whole team then turned in a complete performance to keep Widnes at bay. Netminder Summer Crammer was excellent when called upon, making several key stops to frustrate Widnes, and the period wound down without further scoring to give Nottingham a well-earned two points.
Vipers outshot their opponents 53 shots to 47, and like the last game could be accused of failing to put their chances away when they came to put the game out of sight. Spirit of the game went to Becky Towsey for her excellent positional play and work ethic, as she continually helped break down the Widnes attack. Up next weekend for the Vipers is a fierce test in top of the table Chelmsford, which is sure to be another end to end game:
Megan Rathbone 4+0
Madison Wright 1+1
Olivia Bennett 0+1
Laura Richmond 0+1
Emma Wilkinson 0+2
Madison Wright – 2 minutes interference
Bench Minor – too many players
Summer Cramer 47 shots (10,21,16), 3 goals, 93.62 SV%
Shots on goal