The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild had a little extra festive fun on Sunday night as they staged their popular annual “Winter Classic” game at Silver Blades Widnes.
Always played in aid of a local charity, this year the Winter Classic was played in support of the Widnes based Cathie Stankevitch Foundation social inclusion charity and the opponents this year were a “Widnes All Stars” team featuring past Wild players and other north-west players.
The All Stars team included players who had played for the Wild during their inaugural 2013/14 season such as Dan Bracegirdle, Tom Revesz, Bradley Valentine, Josh Grocutt, Antony Melbourne, Richard Charles and Joe Charlton – and also Craig Williams who scored Widnes’ first ever goal on 11th August 2013.
Also icing for the All Stars were Widnes Wildcats rec team netminder Barry Sprakes, former Wild head coach and now assistant coach Mark Gillingham, former Liverpool Leopard, Deeside Dragon, Trafford Metro and Telford Tiger and current Wild junior academy coach Lol Paul and Wild team manager and Riverside Raiders player Jon Anderson.
Current Team GB women’s international – and former Widnes Wild women’s team player – Sarah Hutchinson also turned out to support the event as did current Blackburn Hawks player coach Steve Duncombe, Hawks assistant manager Anthony Kinder and Altrincham Aces’ player Mikey Gilbert.
Reality TV star Jesse McClure was also due to play for the All Stars but was unable to take part due to a last minute injury. He did, however, attend the game, present the MVP trophies and pose for photos with fans.
The All Stars team wore special commemorative shirts for the occasion and these were auctioned off to raise extra funds for the charity. There was also an “Air The Bear” teddy toss at the end of the first period where fans were invited to throw stuffed toys onto the ice. In total almost 100 cuddly toys were collected to brighten up the Christmas period for sick and needy children.
As for the game itself? Well – on this one occasion the result on the ice was not as important as the fundraising and goodwill off the ice but for the record, the current Widnes Wild team beat the All Stars 10-5.
The game was played in good humour throughout and there were a few pantomime fights and other antics later on in the match so that everybody went home in a good festive mood.
Wild player coach Ollie Barron said afterwards: “Sunday was good fun in the Widnes Winter Classi., It was great to see a big turnout for a great cause – thanks to all that took part supported and donated.
We end 2016 on a run of good results, On behalf of all the team, Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all the Wild Ones. We look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.”
Sunday 18th December 2017 – Widnes Winter Classic
Widnes Wild 10 – Widnes All Stars 5
Period Scores: 3-1, 4-3, 3-1
Wild Scorers: Lee Kemp 2, Andrew Turner 2, Nick Manning 2, Tom Ratcliffe 2, Shaun Dippnall 1,
Berwyn Hughes 1
All Stars Scorers: Mikey Gilbert 2, Jon Anderson 2, Joe Charlton 1
Photos by Geoff White (www.gw-images.com)
Match report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)