Wild’s Thomas Barry (#29) celebrates scoring the winning goal in overtime away at Sheffield. (Photo by Cerys Molloy)
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild consolidated their position at the top of the NIHL North Cup table with a dramatic 5-6 overtime win away to the Sheffield Scimitars at iceSheffield on Saturday.
The game started badly for the Wild as they conceded the first goal after just 2½ minutes and, after a bit of a below par performance, found themselves trailing 3-0 heading into the last minute of the first period. Then, new Widnes signing Cameron Brownley picked up the puck in his own half, skated past several Sheffield players and fired in an impressive individual goal with just 19 seconds left on the clock.
A further goal for Sheffield 4 minutes from the restart saw the Wild 3 goals behind again and, were it not for solid defending and a great display from Matt Croyle in the Widnes net, the deficit could have been much more.
Joe Coulter pulled another goal back for the Wild in the 35 minute, somewhat against the run of play, but Sheffield countered that less a minute later to leave the score standing at 5-2 at the end of the second period.
Widnes upped their game in the third period and gradually managed to gain the upper hand. Two goals in less than two minutes – from Richard Haggar on 52 and player coach Ollie Barron on 54 – narrowed the margin to just one goal, setting up a nerve-jangling finale. The Scimitars had narrowly lost both their previous Cup games, having thrown away commanding leads and it now looked as if lightning might actually strike for a third time.
Widnes called a time out at 58.36 to discuss last ditch tactics and, once they managed to get the puck down the Sheffield end of the rink, netminder Matt Croyle was taken off in favour of an extra attacking player. Leaving the goal unguarded can often backfire but, on this occasion, the offensive pressure paid off and an unmarked Richard Haggar turned in a Lewis Baldwin pass with just 28 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 5-5.
A sudden death overtime period followed where the teams would play 3 on 3 to decide a winner. Both teams had their chances but the odds swung in Widnes’ favour when a Sheffield player was given a 2 minute penalty for slashing with 90 seconds left to play.
This allowed the Wild a 4 on 3 man advantage (an extra player is brought on for a penalty in overtime instead of a man going off…) and former Sheffield player Thomas Barry fired in a dramatic deciding goal at 64.16 to hand Widnes the victory.
The 5-6 win sees Widnes extended their 100% record in this NIHL North Cup competition with 3 wins from 3 games and they sit top of the 4-team table with 6 points.
The other game on Saturday saw Blackburn Hawks beat Nottingham Lions 7-6 to move into second place in the table with 4 points. Sheffield are in third place with 3 points from 3 overtime losses and Nottingham are propping the table up with just 2 points from three games.
With 2 goals and 2 assists in the win at Sheffield, the Wild’s Richard Haggar is now the leading scorer in the NIHL North Cup with 5+7, while Adam Barnes is second with 6+5
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild are at home to Sheffield Scimitars this Saturday 20th March at Planet Ice Widnes – 1pm face off.
No spectators are allowed into the venue to watch the game but it will be live-streamed over the internet by BASN and also covered on the Wild’s official Twitter feed. The online streaming is free to watch but the Widnes club are inviting viewers to make a donation to the Halton Haven Hospice.
Widnes defenceman Tom Jackson will miss the rest of the NIHL North Cup competition after suffering a fractured fibula and ankle ligament damage in a collision with a Scimitars player during the Wild’s game at Sheffield. It was not a malicious challenge but Jackson landed heavily against the boards and sustained the injury.