The Widnes Wild women’s team can hold their heads up with pride after an heroic performance at the Women’s Premier League play offs in Sheffield at the weekend.
They managed to qualify for the EIHA’s Women’s Trophy Weekend somewhat against the odds by having to win their last three league games away from home and, having achieved that, they then found themselves up against league champions Streatham Storm in the semi final match.
Unfortunately the Wild team – who had struggled with numbers through injuries and player unavailability all season – were further affected by international call ups this week and had to travel to Sheffield this weekend with just 10 players, of which one was the netminder.
Needless to say, only having 9 skaters to play a 60 minute game that is designed to be played using two or more alternating lines of 5 players each is far from ideal and the Wild women were up against it right from the start. The buoyant – and more numerous – Streatham team were much too strong for the Widnes girls but they battled away and managed to keep the score to – in the circumstances – a very respectable 6-1 defeat.
The Widnes goal was scored by Belgian international player Leen de Decker, bringing her total to 12 goals and 5 assists from 12 games this season. The goal was assisted by Katie Hills who finishes the season as the Wild women’s second highest scorer behind de Decker with 9+7 and Sav Sumner who finishes with 1+4 in her first season of competitive hockey, during which she was ever-present in the team.
The other semi-final saw Milton Keynes Falcons beat league runners up Chelmsford Cobras and the final on the Sunday saw a bit of an upset as the third place finishing Falcons beat the Storm to take the Play Off Title.
After the semi-final defeat, Coach Owen Tennant said:
“Obviously, we are all a bit disappointed to have not made the final of the playoffs, but that is definitely not down to the effort. As always the girls put in a solid performance but being short benched was always going to be a tough challenge, one that we were unable to overcome this time.”
“The season as a whole has brought many positives as well as some negatives. The negatives are the things we can address at training and the positives are confidence boosts. Obviously the start of the season was tough; a number of factors contributing including the change of coach. The girls have adapted to my style of coaching really well and, likewise, I have tried to adjust certain aspects of my coaching to suit the team. I feel that we have worked well together over the past season and they have most definitely done themselves and me proud.”
“Although we finished the season with a loss, I would still say we finished on a high. Three fantastic away wins proved the quality of the team and I have no doubt that form can be carried on into next season.”
The Widnes Wild women’s team are back in action in a fortnight’s time when they take part in the 12 team friendship tournament which is held every year at Swindon.
Two of the Widnes based rec teams were also in action at the weekend. The Riverside Raiders consolidated their position at the top of the Puckstop Summer Classic table with an 11-1 win away in Blackburn against the Wyre Seagulls on Saturday night and the Halton Huskies team beat the Wyre Seagulls at home at Silver Blades Widnes 11-3 in a challenge game on Sunday evening.
The other Widnes recreational team – the Widnes Wildcats – will be action next Sunday 11th June 2017 – when they entertain the Durham Dragons in a Summer Cup game at Silver Blades Widnes. The game faces off at 8.30pm and admission is free.
Report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk
Photos by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com