Dragons Secure League One Status
Deeside Dragons preserved their NIHL North Moralee D1 status after securing a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory over Widnes Wild on Sunday.
Scott McKenzie’s team went into the game at Blackburn Ice Arena on the back of an impressive 8-6 win against Blackburn Hawks the previous day, but they were pushed hard by their D2 opponents.
A feisty opening few minutes saw both teams take penalties as they looked to stamp their authority on the contest.
Jordan Bannon’s fifth minute powerplay goal broke the deadlock, but Widnes quickly brushed that aside and fought back in search of an equaliser.
The Dragons hit penalty trouble in the 16th minute when Simon Furnival was ejected from the game for a check to the head, and they found themselves facing a 5-on-3 a minute later when they were called for too many men on the ice.
Widnes took full advantage as Shaun Dippnall teed up Bobby Caunce to send the teams in level at the first break.
The D1 side started the middle session on the front foot and they restored their lead after 23 minutes when Filip Supa fired home.
Nick Manning drew Widnes level again midway through the period, but Bannon’s second of the night in the 36th minute put the Dragons 3-2 in front.
Wild refused to lie down and were rewarded just before the second buzzer when Bez Hughes levelled the game for a third time.
Tempers flared at the end of the period, with players from both sides involved in an ugly melee that took the officials a while to get under control.
The ill-feeling spilled over into the third period, with another fracas resulting in Caunce being thrown out of the game for headbutting.
The Dragons pressed forward in search of the winning goal, although Wild remained dangerous on the counter-attack.
However, neither side could find a way through and the game went to a five-minute overtime period of 3-on-3.
A penalty call on Wild’s Stuart Brittle in the 63rd minute proved to be the pivotal moment, with the Dragons taking full advantage of the extra man just a minute later.
McKenzie drove the Dragons forward and set up James Parsons to fire home the winner and spark scenes of wild celebration on and off the ice.
With his team guaranteed another season in D1, McKenzie paid tribute to their resilience.
“The guys feel like they’ve won a trophy – they’re really, really happy,” said McKenzie.
“Widnes have got some good players and there might be a bit of bad blood with me leaving there, but the game was played with pride and passion and a real play-off mentality.
“Both teams didn’t want to lose and credit to them for the way they kept coming back – they made it really difficult for us.
“I’m just grateful we got the win and I’m delighted that it was James Parsons who got the goal.
“He’s a natural leader and he’s been an outstanding player in this league this year.
“Our fans were absolutely amazing too. We never question our support – they’re absolutely brilliant and we really appreciate it. Everything we do is for them.”
Match Report courtesy of http://www.britishicehockey.co.uk/