A comfortable win for Wightlink Raiders over struggling Cardiff tonight, but in this case the scoreline doesn’t reflect the game completely.
Don’t get me wrong. Wightlink were clearly the better team and have depth through all three lines. Cardiff by comparison have a couple of good players but lack the same depth of squad and were mostly over-run by the Raiders. I have to give some credit to the welsh side here though – they really embodied a ‘never-say-die’ attitude for me tonight They didn’t give up right up to the final buzzer and through themselves at everything to try and stop the onslaught and also to try and make something of the chances they did get. Late in the second, Brown threw himself in front of a Cesky shot with no regard for his own safety – which is saying something about commitment to the cause when you are already 6-1 down and the game is effectively gone.
Thomas Stuart-Dant and Jonathan Nash for Cardiff were real standouts for me, both in terms of individual performance but also in how well the two combined with each other. The majority of Cardiff’s genuine scoring chances came from these two and Cardiff just need a few more players like that to have enough of a core squad to be able to start getting themselves out of trouble. In nets, Miller just seemed to grown in stature as the game went on. In the third, he was absolutely superb.
For Wightlink, Larter has clearly made an impact in his return and looked both solid and dangerous. Cesky is sheer quality from start to finish and what impresses me a lot about him is how hard he works in both directions. As a team, the biggest thing they do well for me is the speed at which they release the puck when shooting. Too often players will wait and try and pick the perfect spot. Raiders seem to have an ethos of ‘shoot early’ – admittedly it means shots are not always the highest quality BUT the big difference is that is gives no time for the netminder to set up – and you will score that way. It’s a real skill to do and it looks like it is one that Cornish has worked on with the squad and it does make a difference.
Wightlink as a squad has real depth – Danny ingoldsby for example I thought was very quiet tonight – I don’t know if he was being partially rested but I didn’t notice him on the ice much – which did surprise me as when I have seen him before I have rated him very highly. That’s not a dig at Ingoldsby, but more to say that when one player has an off day, for this squad, there is plenty of other quality to pick up the slack. Tribe and Watkins for example, both played well and were busy working hard at both ends. I’ve used the word ‘depth’ about this team a few times already, but it is the most appropriate word I can think of. Cornish has put together 3 strong lines of players that work well together and while there are a few standouts, the biggest thing is that when one is having an an off day there you can get away with it because there are 14 others who will pick up the slack.
So, despite the fact that the game was effectively over in the first period. This all added up to being entertaining from start to finish.