SOLIHULL Vixens opened the new Women’s Elite League season with a 7-4 defeat to Guildford Flames.
Having finished last year with a heavily depleted team due to injuries, work commitments and maternity breaks, the off-ice staff of the Vixens have worked hard through the summer to bring in new players in time to launch their assault on the league title in the new season.
With so many new names and all lines effected by change, it was always going to prove a difficult start on Saturday.
Having trained hard, Vixens started the game confidently and began to find some unity but there is no replacement for game time and Guildford’s longevity finally broke through at 11.35 when Aly Emery passed to Lindsey O’Neil to fire past Solihull’s netminder Michelle Franklin to give the home side the lead.
Solihull managed to level the score at 13.39 with a sweet pass by new name Jodie-Leigh Bloom found the Vixens captain Saffron Allen who toyed with the Guildford netminder before netting the goal.
Sadly this lasted just 12 seconds and Guildford regained control, again from O’Neil.
The first period ended with the one-goal deficit and the Vixens beginning to find their feet in new company.
The second period saw a promising start from Solihull and a beautifully taken opportunity goal at 28.22 by alternate captain Katie Henry levelled the score.
Guildford then rose to the risk and stepped their game up significantly.
Goals at 30.06 and 36.39 from Kirsty England and Louisa Durnell gave the home team a two-goal advantage and the period ended at 4-2.
The third period was again a promising start from the Vixens and at 44.31 Paige Dance fed the puck to Telford Junior Grace Garbett on a two-way signing and in her first adult game who managed to thread the puck to Allen to get her second of the night.
However, Guildford fired right back again at 44.48 from Beth Hill, Allen and Garbett linked again at 52.22 for Allen’s hat-trick goal to reduce the gap back to one but Guildford’s composure showed through and the unfamiliarity of Solihull was exposed when the home side struck at 55.41 and 59.14, both from Hill to give her a hat-trick and Guildford a 7-4 victory.
Vixens head coach Lee Trueman said: “We had a lot of good things happening out there.
“It’s still early days for what is basically a very changed team.
“We will work on the errors and the areas we were weak and look forward to Kingston in two weeks.”