The Widnes Wild Academy U18’s team enjoyed a very solid season with an excellent 5th place finish in an incredibly competitive league.
This was the first time that Widnes had iced a team at Under 18 level so the Wild squad for the season consisted of a number of players who were playing together for the first time and who were also playing against teams with much more experience. The Wild youngsters were able to give an excellent account of themselves, as confidence and results improved as the season progressed.
Two tough opening defeats – away to Manchester Storm U18’s and then at Planet Ice Widnes to Solihull Barons U18’s – were marked by an impressive start to the season by team captain Sam Anderson, with 2 goals against his former Storm club and then a great hat trick against the Barons U18’s.
A gutsy 1-1 tied game at Planet Ice Widnes against the Sutton Sting U18’s showed the Wild’s determination to the full, with a great performance from net minder Jake Lowndes. After a number of tough defeats – including games against the quality teams of Sheffield and Nottingham, the real turning point for the Wild came against the Deeside Dragons.
A superb 5-8 win away in North Wales, with 5 goals from Anderson, helped breathe confidence into the team and set things up for an impressive end to the season. A narrow defeat against Manchester Storm was then followed by 3 games undefeated for Widnes. An entertaining 5-5 draw with the Sutton Sting in Sheffield, was followed by two excellent wins, 8-5 against the Sting at Planet Ice Widnes and then on the road 5-10 versus the Solihull Barons U18’s. In a clinical game for the Wild; Tristan Grimshaw (5), captain Sam Anderson (4) and Luke Mullarkey (1) all found the net.
Three very difficult games followed, with defeats against the Sheffield, Nottingham and Manchester Storm U18’s. In all three games, Widnes gave everything with another impressive hat trick game for Tristan Grimshaw against the Storm U18’s. The Wild can rightfully be very proud of their efforts throughout the season, before an unfortunate premature end to the proceedings led to the cancellation of the last two games.
Team captain Samuel Anderson had an outstanding offensive season, and ended up top points scorer for the whole of U18 North 2 division for the season (35 goals and 18 assists in 14 games), to help lead the Wild to a 5th place finish in the standings.
Tristan Grimshaw also had a fantastic season. Despite only playing in eight games, he was able to find the net 16 times and provided 11 assists for the team. He finished the season with an incredible 27 points, to provide an invaluable contribution to the Wild youngsters.
Net minder Jake Lowndes had a very solid season in goal for Widnes. Providing stability at the back in the toughest fixtures, whilst also showing grit and resolve, he finished the season with a fantastic .8464 save percentage across 16 games.
Report by Robert Martin