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Sunday 11th October

Added on Thursday 14 Oct 2010

IW WILDCATS 5 - SOLENT& GOSPORT U18 1

Picture the scene, the Isle of Wight U18s team were non-existent several weeks ago due to lack of numbers. Partly because of players leaving the junior system and also because a couple of players chose to swap their allegiance and transfer to local rivals Gosport. Fast forward several weeks and after loads of work behind the scenes to recruit players and a huge effort and commitment from the players within the club a team was assembled. A team who would do the club proud.

Sunday 10th October 2010.Every wildcat player and supporter should remember this day. This was the day that the twelve players who made up the Wildcats team assembled at the rink for the biggest game of the season. This was the game they all wanted, the game they knew they had to win and the game they were prepared to give everything they had for.
The previous game against Swindon saw the wildcats face a whole extra line within the Swindon team which could have quite easily worn the Islanders down. However, this time against Gosport it was twelve against twelve. There could be no excuses.

As soon as the team stepped on the ice for the warm up you could sense their determination. At this moment they more than anything in the world wanted to beat the visitors to show them that this is the best team on the south coast. There were several extended glances towards the Gosport players as if to let them know that the hosts meant business and nothing would stop them. Eleven young men and a lady then huddled for their team talk and after weeks of build up the time had now come. Twelve warriors about to go to war. Cometh the hour cometh the man!

The hundred plus crowd were in for a cracker. This is how it unfolded.

The first whistle sounds and both sets of players are out of their traps with a point to prove. The early exchanges were very even and though the wildcats picked up an early penalty it was soon killed off with out too much concern. Then after just seven minutes Aidan Doughty broke through centre ice and placed a well timed shot past former Isle of Wight netminder Elliott Powell which sent the crowd and players into hysterics. This was what the players needed, an early goal to unsettle the organized Gosport team. Almost before the place could settle down the wildcats were in the ascendency once more. This time Daniel Bennett found Doughty once again in centre ice and for the second time in just under a minute he placed a much softer shot but nonetheless just as accurate past the hapless keeper. If the first goal sent the crowd wild, then this one sent them into a frenzy.
The team then had the discipline to calm things down and take control for a few minutes. However, Gosport did have some good chances themselves with both Perella and Crockford coming close. The game certainly evened up for the remainder of the period with both netminders making some fine saves. Dan Weller for the Wildcats in particular pulling a couple out of the air with consummate ease. The period ended with a fine two goals to nil lead for the Wildcats and you could cut the atmosphere in the rink with a knife.

The period break gave coach Herbert a chance to compose his troops knowing that the visitors would come out in the second period with all guns blazing, and also knowing the next goal by either team could have a huge outcome on the game.

The second period was a far more even affair with possibly Gosport edging the early exchanges. Dan Weller was proving to be a rock in the goal, and being backed up by some good solid defending from George Smith, Luke Bontoft, James McClellan and Connor Price. The wildcats were also testing the nerve of the Gosport netminder who was also making some good saves. The rear guard of the wildcats was penetrated after twenty four minutes when a scramble in front of the goal allowed Milner to score for the visitors. This obviously gave Gosport some added belief, but the Wildcats had other things on their minds and were not in a charitable mood. For ten minutes the game remained finely poised on a knife edge, with Weller once again making some fine saves from the Gosport forwards. Then after thirty five minutes an early nail was placed in Gosports coffin when Jordan Ricketts used his strength and skill to waltz passed the Gosport defence as if they were standing still and unselfishly placed a nice pass to Dan Bennett who slotted the puck home with comparative ease to once again establish a two goal cushion and allow some breathing space within the team. A slight lack of discipline from the Wildcats then gifted Gosport a five on three power play for well over a minute. This seemed to be the turning point of the game as they did not capitalize on their superior strength in numbers and almost seemed to have accepted defeat. The wildcats held strong to kill the penalty and see out the period with a three goals to one advantage.

The break once again gave coach Herbert time to fire the troops up for the final period. The game was still finely balanced but their was a real feeling in the arena that one more body punch would finish off the visitors. With twenty minutes of the game remaining it was all to play for.

As the players vacated the changing rooms for the last time it was obvious there was going to be only one winner. Each and every one of them had a steely determination in their eyes. There was no talking, just total concentration. This team knew how close they were to the win and it was obvious in their body language just how much they wanted it.

The whistle blows and immediately the hosts are on the attack. With a new netminder between the pipes for the visitors, it was clear that the wildcats wanted to test him early. This is exactly what they did when after just one minute of the period Doughty broke free and placed a backhanded shot past the keeper to almost put the game to bed. There was however time for one more goal. Just two minutes later pocket rocket and crowd favourite Ben “killer” Thomas-Hart peeled away from his defender to find himself in open space in front of goal to receive a pass from Doughty and place it into the bottom right corner. This was without doubt the final killer punch and would now allow the players to relax and play out the remainder of the game. There was still time for Ricketts to hit the post and Sophie Herbert to pull a good save out of their keeper. As the horn sounded for the final time the crowd and players alike celebrated in style.

The final score of five goals to one was a truly outstanding display of well organized, disciplined hockey. Each and every player showed teamwork, discipline and respect. From the back Weller was a rock in goal facing an incredible forty nine shots and only letting the one goal in. Smith, Price, Bontoft and McClellan were bossing the defence and largely limiting the angles of the Gosport attack. All four defenceman did not switch off from their duties once. The forwards of Doughty, Herbert, Ricketts, Beale, Thomas-Hart Bennett and Denness caused the Gosport defence all sorts of problems throughout the game. As with the defenceman every single one of them worked so hard and remained focused from the first to the last whistle. Every player should be proud of the result they achieved. Six weeks ago there was no team. Six weeks later and the twelve wildcats pull off a fantastic win. Every player should be proud of how they performed. I know the club is extremely proud. You sent many people home with very big smiles on their faces. Well done Wildcats, well done to the coaches and managers and well done to the Isle of Wight Junior Ice Hockey Club.

Is this a biased report (Possibly), was the game closer than the score line suggests (probably), did the Wildcats beat Gosport five goals to one (DEFINITELY).

FINAL SCORE: WILDCATS 5, GOSPORT 1 Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Shots on goal: Dan Weller 49 shots 1 goal conceded
Gosport 31 shots 5 goals conceded

Points: Aidan Doughty 3+1, Daniel Bennett 1+1, Ben Thomas-Hart 1+0, Jordan Ricketts 0+1

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