The Wild Academy Under 11 team after their first ever home match (Photo by Hannah Walker)
Saturday 26th October 2019: Wild Academy Under 11s 2 – Bradford Under 11s 8
The Wild Academy Under 11s team played their first ever home game on Saturday 26th October at Planet Ice Widnes, eventually losing out 2 – 8 to a very experienced Bradford side.
This is the first season that the Wild Academy have fielded an Under 11s team and for some players this was only their second ever competitive game. Other players have come from the Under 9s team – where they play short format “cross-ice” hockey – and several players have previously played for other teams, so it’s obvious that this new team will take time to gel.
The Bradford club has a phenomenal reputation for producing quality junior players that dates back decades and, despite being Under 11s, their team boasted several players who already had over 50 competitive games under their belts. The game started badly for Widnes as they conceded the first goal with just 43 seconds on the clock but they rallied after this and, despite numerous chances for both sides, the first period continued otherwise goal-less.
To only be 0 – 1 down against such experienced opposition at the end of the first period was already a superb display by the Wild youngsters and, although they conceded two more goals in the second period, a 0 – 3 scoreline at the second break still reflected very well on the home side.
Bradford began to run away with things in the third period and scored 4 more goals before Widnes finally found the back of the net for themselves. On 45 minutes, team captain Cai Vernett-Showers – who also plays up a level for the Wild Under 13s team – scored what was in fact the Wild Under 11s first ever goal, as they had been shut out away at Whitley Bay in their first game. Bradford scored again just 30 seconds afterwards but the scoring was rounded off for the evening with a debut goal from Evan Walker, an Under 9s player who was playing up a level, and only making his second ever competitive appearance on full-sized ice.
The Wild Under 11s team are at home again this Saturday 2nd November, when they take on the Kingston Under 11 team at Planet Ice, Widnes – 6.15 p.m. face off. Kingston have lost all three of their league games this season so far, although they too have a very experienced roster and will provide stiff opposition for the fledgling Wild team.
The Wild Academy Under 13s team had been scheduled to play Billingham at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday evening as well, but that game has been postponed and will now take place at the end of April 2020.
Saturday 26th October 2019: Wild Academy Under 18s 3 – Sheffield Steel City Under 18s 13
The Widnes Wild Academy Under 18s team suffered a 3 – 14 defeat to Sheffield Steel City Under 18s at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday.
This is the first season of league competition for the Wild Under 18s team and they have so far struggled to make much headway against highly organised and experienced teams of much longer standing.
Despite being seriously out-shot throughout the game, Widnes actually performed very well. It took almost 5 minutes for Sheffield to break down the stubborn Wild defence and a further 10 minutes before they managed to score their second goal. A short-handed goal conceded while Widnes were pushing up to try to take advantage of a power play situation, handed the visitors a 0 – 3 advantage at the first break.
The second period saw Sheffield noticeably up their game, then they peppered Jake Lowndes’ net with 34 shots. They added 3 more goals to their tally before Widnes team captain Sam Anderson fired in the first home goal of the game on 31 minutes. Two more Sheffield goals followed to finish the period at 1 – 8 to the visitors and Widnes brought on Jamie Lee Houghton in goal for the third period.
A Sheffield goal just 12 seconds from the restart edged the visitors further ahead, then Sam Anderson scored a second Widnes goal on a power play on 45 minutes. Sheffield countered with a further goal of their own just 1 minute later but Anderson put away his hat-trick strike on 48 minutes. Four unanswered goals for Sheffield followed and, considering their battling performance, the Wild team would probably find the final score of 3 – 14 a little disappointing.
The win saw the Sheffield team move above Manchester Storm to take over at the top of the league table. Sam Anderson’s hat-trick means he remains top of the scoring standings for the division, with 16 goals and 4 assists.
The Wild Academy Under 18s Team are next in action on Saturday 9th November when they take on the Nottingham Under 18s team at home at Planet Ice Widnes – 7.45 p.m. face off. This is the same opposition to whom they very narrowly lost away last weekend and this should be a thrilling encounter to watch.
The Wild Academy Under 11s and Under 18s are brand new teams for this season, having been set up with the help of a £4,000 community grant as part of the Tesco supermarket chain’s “Bags of Help” initiative. The addition of these two new teams to the Wild Academy junior development programme means that Widnes now have competitive teams at all five junior age groups – i.e. Under 9s, Under 11s, Under 13s, Under 15s and Under 18s.
The Wild Academy are always keen to attract new players of any age and experience – boys and girls – but prospective newcomers are asked to contact Head Coach Mike Gilbert by e-mail at email@example.com before attending.
The Junior training sessions run at the following times:
Under 9s and Under 11s: Tuesday 6.15 – 7.15 pm and Thursday 7.15 – 8.15 pm
Under 13s and Under 15s: Tuesday 7.15 – 815 pm and Thursday 7.15 – 8.15 pm
Under 18s: Wednesday 9.00 – 10.15 pm
For anybody new who would like to take up the sport, the Planet Ice rink in Widnes has various “learn to play” courses available for all age groups that run throughout the year and enquiries should be made at the rink, telephone 0151-420-7930.