It is with great delight that the YKK Widnes Wild announce the squad for the 2021 NiHL North Cup and the coaching duo of Ollie Barron and Mark Gillingham. Neither Ollie or Mark will need any introduction to the #WildOnes, with the duo bringing four trophies in three seasons, and although both took a step back last season (albeit with Mark providing coaching cover when necessary), both remained active ambassadors for a club they helped build.
Moving onto net minding we have the trio of Phil Pearson, Tom McDonald and Matt Croyle backstopping the team. Phil came to Widnes last season after playing for Bradford Bulldogs, whilst Tom played the first period of Wild hockey ever and has remained involved with the club ever since. Fans will no doubt be delighted to see Matt Croyle back between the pipes, after having played his hockey in Bracknell last season.
Returning from last season to the Wild blue line will be Peter Toth, Lee Kemp, Bez Hughes, Callum Worthington-Evans and Tom Jackson. Toth had a fantastic first season last year for the Wild, with Worthington-Evans having made a great contribution after joint mid-season from the Peterborough Phantoms. Hughes, Kemp and TJ are well loved by the #WildOnes and have contributed significantly to the teams success over the years.
Returning to the Wild after having played with the Sheffield Steeldogs for a number of seasons is Tom Barry, who will be bringing his Steeldogs teammate, Jordan Griffin, with him. Barry played for the Wild in the teams second season alongside Hughes and TJ, whilst he also played with Barron, Brittle and Mawer at the Sheffield Spartans. Having been coached by Mark Gillingham as a junior, Griffin has developed at the Steelers and the Steeldogs, as well as successfully representing GB at U18’s and U20’s.
Completing the defence will be Lewis Baldwin, who had a breakout season with Leeds Chiefs in their first year and has previously played alongside Worthington-Evans and Dan Bullock (last season’s Wild Captain) at the Manchester Phoenix, as well as playing with Chris Gee at the Blackburn Hawks.,
Featuring on the Wild offence from last season will be Ken Armstrong, Mikey Gilbert, MJ Clancy, Dani Haid, Chris Gee, Matt Tarpey and Mike Mawer, “King” Ken is beloved by the #WildOnes, having played over 200 games for the Wild, with Gee, Gilbert and Mawer also being fan favourites and all four were key members of the double winning team from the 18/19 season. Clancy, Haid and Tarpey, all joined the Wild last season and made a significant contribution to a difficult season. Clancy scored 23 points in 20 games, with Haid scoring 13 in 11 games, and Tarpey scored 28 points in 21 games.
Making a very welcome return are Ollie Barron and Stuart Brittle. Both are well known throughout the league, with both players having significant experience at all levels of the game, and both being instrumental to the Wild adding silverware to the trophy cabinet over the years.
The Wild Offence will be bolstered by Richard Haggar, previously of the Hull Jets, alongside Joey Coulter and Adam Barnes from the Leeds Chiefs. Barnes has previously been coached by Mark Gillingham, whilst Haggar was involved in junior hockey camps with Gillingham. Coulter, an assistant Captain with Leeds Chiefs last season has played alongside a number of the team and will add a Scottish flavour to the dressing room.
Also returning from last season is kit man, Charles Humphreys. An integral part of the team, Charles keeps the skates sharp and the dressing room ready.
It is worth noting that all the Wild players from last season were invited to join the team, however due to the COVID-19, not all players were available. We hope that they and their families are well, and we look forward to welcoming them back once they feel it is appropriate for them to do so.
Don’t forget to follow the team on social media – Twitter and Facebook are both @WidnesWild whilst it’s @WidnesWildOffical. And don’t forget all of our homes games are being streamed by BASN.
So finally, we get to say, it’s #TimeToGoWild #TTGW