Mikey Gilbert (#16) scored a hat-trick away at Blackburn on Saturday and the winning penalty shot at Hull on Sunday (Photo by Geoff White).
Saturday 29th February: Blackburn Hawks2 1 – YKK Widnes Wild 9 (NIHL Laidler Division)
Sunday 1st March: Hull Jets 3 – YKK Widnes Wild 4 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild moved up into third place in the Laidler Division table after a second consecutive four point weekend, winning away to the Blackburn Hawks 2 development team 1 – 9 on Saturday and then beating league leaders Hull Jets in the most dramatic fashion after a penalty shoot out on Humberside on Sunday.
The visit on Saturday to the league’s bottom team did not start off exactly as planned, as Blackburn took the lead on 13 minutes. Despite out-shooting the Hawks by 21 to 3 in the first period, Widnes were unable to find the back of the net and remained a goal down at the first break. It took until the 34th minute for the Wild to score but Jakub Hajek’s goal had the desired effect and three more goals followed – two from Peter Toth and one from Lee Kemp – to hand the Wild a 1 – 4 lead by the end of the second period.
A goal-less ten minutes ensued at the start of the third period before Shaun Dippnall edged the Wild further ahead and then two quick-fire goals within 45 seconds of each other – from Mikey Gilbert and Hajek again – put the game well beyond the reach of Blackburn. Two more goals within the last minute of play from Mikey Gilbert saw him complete his hat trick and round off the evening with a 1 – 9 victory for Widnes.
The trip to Blackburn was always likely to be the easier of the two games of the weekend but, despite travelling to Hull with a depleted bench, the Wild were determined to give a good account of themselves against the league leaders.
The first period was very close, with plenty of chances for both teams and the only goal came from the league’s leading scorer Richard Haggar – for Hull – in the twelfth minute. The Wild drew level with a short handed goal on 35 minutes from Mikey Gilbert and it looked as if the score would remain tied at 1 – 1 heading into the second period break but the Jets edged back in front with just five seconds left in the period.
With the score standing at 2–1 to Hull, but Widnes on top in terms of shots on goal, there was still plenty to play for in the third period. Mike Mawer equalised for the Wild on 42 minutes and Shaun Dippnall fired them into the lead two and a half minutes later.
A third goal for Hull followed on 47 minutes and the game ended with an incredibly tense and nerve-wracking final phase. At the end of 60 minutes regulation time, the score was still 3 – 3 and it remained 3 – 3 after five minutes ‘sudden death’ overtime.
This meant that the game would have to be decided by a penalty shoot out. Shaun Dippnall and Mikey Gilbert both scored their penalty shots and Wild netminder Phil Pearson saved both of the Jets’ efforts to hand the Wild a well-earned victory.
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild are next at home this weekend with a double header when they have a home game on the Saturday as well as the Sunday. On Saturday 7th March the Wild take on the Telford Tigers 2 team in the game that was re-scheduled a couple of weeks ago due to travel concerns caused by the storms. On Sunday they will host Hull Jets for the first time at Planet Ice Widnes this season – both games face off at 5.30 pm.
For this “double header” weekend, special tickets are on sale at the rink – priced at £14.00 for adults and £8.00 for children covering both matches. This represents a saving of £2.00 on both adult and children tickets if they were bought separately for each game. These “double header” tickets are only available from the rink box office – and cannot be booked online. They can be purchased in advance or on the door at the Telford game on the Saturday.