New Wild signing Daniel Haid (#55) scored two goals in the home game against Sheffield. (Photo by Geoff White)
Saturday 11th January 2020: Sheffield Senators 1- YKK Widnes Wild 9 (NIHL Laidler Division)
Sunday 12th January 2020: YKK Widnes Wild 4 – Sheffield Senators 5 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild had a mixed weekend winning 1-9 away to the Sheffield Senators on Saturday and then losing in highly dramatic fashion 4-5 to the same opposition at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The game on Saturday started off very close and it took until the 13th minute for the first break-through, with the Wild’s Jakub Hajek scoring a powerplay goal. Ken Armstrong edged Widnes further ahead with a goal in the 18th minute and the score remained 0 – 2 to the Wild at the first period break.
The second period started as the first had begun, with lots of end-to-end hockey and chances for both teams, then Sheffield finally scored their first goal of the game in the 38th minute. Widnes restored the two-goal advantage with a second goal from Jakub Hajek with just 35 seconds left in the period and the Wild led 1 – 3 at the second break.
After yet another tense opening to the third period, Widnes finally ran away with the game with six goals in the last ten minutes. Hajek started the ‘goal rush’ at 49.25, Sam Anderson scored his first ever senior goal for the Wild just 60 seconds later and then a pair each from Matt Tarpey and Shaun Dippnall rounded off the scoring for an emphatic 1 – 9 victory.
Sunday’s home game was similarly close fought and, although Widnes outshot the Senators by 25-12in the first period, it was the Senators who opened the scoring in the 13th minute, with a goal from their Norwegian import Truels Lone, who hadn’t played the night before. Widnes equalised in the 17th minute with a debut goal for Daniel Haid, the Wild’s new German import who played his first games for the team this weekend.
While Widnes appeared to have the upper hand generally, they seemed to have trouble turning their puck possession and shots on goal into goals and Sheffield edged ahead again three minutes into the second period.
A powerplay goal from Matt Tarpey on 35 minutes pulled the Wild level again and then a first ever home goal for Sam Anderson finally put the Wild into the lead two minutes later. A third goal for the visitors with just 34 seconds left in the period tied the game at 3 – 3 with all to play for in the final 20 minutes.
Once again, the third period saw the Wild out-shoot the Senators by a considerable margin but, once again, it was the Senators who scored the first goal of the period. Then while the Wild were pushing forward to try and equalise again, they got caught out at the back and Truels Lone scored his third goal of the game on 54 minutes, to put the Senators 3-5 ahead, leaving Widnes with a mountain to climb.
The Wild exerted tremendous pressure on the Sheffield goal and Net Minder Mark Hartley put in a solid performance to keep them out. A second goal of the night from Daniel Haid with just 46 seconds left on the clock, narrowed the deficit to just one goal but, after calling a Time Out, the Widnes team removed their netminder in favour of an extra attacker. The six attackers piled even more pressure on the Senators’ goal but couldn’t manage the last gasp breakthrough and the game finished at 4 – 5 to the visitors.
The away win and home defeat means that the Wild have drawn the “mini series” of 4 league games against the Senators but have scored more goals overall in the process. This is important as, when two teams finish level on points in the final league table, overall places are decided by results between teams, which would give Widnes the edge were they to finish level on points with Sheffield.
The MVP Awards were presented by Vicky, Emily and Ben Toole who were visiting from Australia and were at their first ever ice hockey match and went to netminder Mark Hartley for Sheffield and M.J. Clancy for Widnes.
The two points from Saturday’s win see the Wild move up to fifth place in the Laidler Division table. They now have 17 points from 13 league games with games still in hand over all the other teams.
The Wild are away to the Blackburn Hawks 2 development team this Sunday 19th January and then away to the Altrincham Aces the following Saturday 25th January. They are next at home on Sunday 26th January when they take on the Aces again at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30 pm face off.