The Wild Academy Under 11 team after their first ever home game at Planet Ice Widnes (Photo by Hannah Walker)
The Wild Academy entered an Under 11s team in the league for the first time this season, bringing the club’s complement of age group teams up to 5.
A look at the U11s team’s results will tell you that they lost all of their 14 games they played before the season was cut short – but there is plenty more than that to the story of the season. Any new team takes time to put together and a club doesn’t necessarily have a large pool of under 11s players waiting for a team to start up – so all of these U11s players had to come from somewhere.
There was, in fact, an initial core of Widnes youngsters who had “played up” an age group last season in the Wild U13s team because there wasn’t an U11s team for them to play – and they were joined by a few players from other teams who made the move in the hope of getting more ice time.
Also, 7 of the Wild’s U11 players for this season actually “played up” a level from the Widnes Under 9s team, which – considering the difference in size between 8 year olds and 10 year olds – is really impressive.
Under 9s players usually only play “cross ice hockey” – which is a shortened version of the normal game played crossways across the ice instead of lengthways so as to save spending most of the game getting worn out skating up and down.
The emphasis is placed on developing important early skills such as passing, shooting positioning and the games are run by coaches who help the youngsters along showing what they should be doing, rather than being umpired by neutral match officials.
No official scores are kept in U9 cross-ice games, but we are pleased to reveal that – unofficially – the Wild U9s won every game that they played this season!
So, bearing in mind the fact that a lot of these players had never played together before, that on occasions almost half the playing roster were Under 9s who were only used to playing cross ice hockey and that many of the opposition players have been playing together for years on long established teams with some having over 100 competitive games under their belts, it is very hard to find much to criticise about the Wild Academy U11 team’s first ever season.
They will only get better as time goes on and as the players accrue invaluable game time. And the additional fact that so many Under 9s players are getting this early experience of playing full format games at U11 level – and U11s are also playing up at U13 level – can only benefit Widnes ice hockey at all levels in years to come.
Wild Academy U11s Players – 2019/20 Season (goals +assists in brackets / *= U9s player)
Austin Busby (3+1), Caleb Eddleston* (3+1), Sebastian Knowles (1+1), Cai Vernett-Showers (2+0), Evan Walker* (1+0), Joel Babu*, Toryn Christy, Ollie Cliffe*, Harry Gilbert (NM), Harry Graham, Miks Kirsteins (NM), John Lamb, Jenson Longworth*, Lucas Mulliner, Cole Mulliner, Antonio Passerini*, Herbie Rolt*, Charles Shearn, Alfred Shearn, Harrison Storey, Alexandra Vigh-Yecsey, Daniel Woods, Roberts Ziraks. U9s only: Leyton Seddon* (NM)