Widnes Wild will go into the second leg of the Moralee Cup final on level-pegging after drawing the first leg 3-3 against the Dundee Comets.
Most of the goals came in the first period with both sides trying to set the pace in the final. By the end of the first period, Wild were 3-2 up.
Wild led three times in the game. The resilient Dundee side pinned them back on all three occasions.
Dan Haid opened the scoring with a tight wrist shot that flew into the top right corner of net-minder Liam Griffin’s goal.
Latvian superstar Vlads Vulkanovs added the second for Wild. Vlads has scored 23 goals in 16 games in the league this term.
It was no surprise that he added to his tally for the season in the biggest game of the campaign.
Vulkanovs was involved again for the third. He brilliantly himself to open up enough space for Matty Barlow to break the Dundee defence.
The game became heated in the second period, with hits getting harder as the two teams began to familiarise themselves with each other.
This culminated in a double match penalty with both sides seeing a man given marching orders by the refereeing team.
Wild’s Joe Wyatt got his as he checked Dundee’s Michael Ireland in the head.
Cameron McGiffin retaliated and leapt onto Wyatt, inciting a fight. Wyatt didn’t fight back. McGiffin earned his own match penalty for the incident.
Dundee equalised with Joe Greaves unable to clear the puck away from his net-minder’s crease.
Darren Donaldson was there to poke home and level things up.
Third period tension
The third period was a tense one with both sides eager to not lose the game before heading back down to Widnes for the second leg.
With 10:35 to play in the final period, Comets player Sean Beattie was given a penalty for slashing.
It opened up a chance for Widnes to get an advantage heading into Sunday’s second leg.
Comets put in some impressive efforts to kill the penalty. Lewis McIntosh managed to eat up some time with a solo breakaway.
Seconds after Beattie came out of the box, he was back in. Wilcox tripped him. Beattie gained himself a penalty for embellishment – which, to the uneducated, is a fancy way of saying that he’s dived.
Both goaltenders were in action during the closing stages of the game. Harrison Walker showed his resilient quality with a number of impressive saves to deny Dundee the lead.
Walker won the man of the match award for his team.
Wild nearly took the lead with less than 30 seconds left of the game. Mikey Gilbert smacked a vicious shot at goal from the right and it banged off the bar and away.
Widnes and Dundee had never faced each other before this year’s Moralee Cup final. The game in its entirety was sort of a feeling-out process for both teams.
The second leg is tonight (Sunday, February 20) at Planet Ice in Widnes. If the Wild win, it’ll be their first-ever Moralee Cup win.
(Image by Ant Stonelake, for Merseysportlive)