Sunday 19th Jan 2020: Blackburn Hawks2 0 – YKK Widnes Wild 23 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild gave their Laidler Division title ambitions a timely boost with a comprehensive 0 – 23 win away to the Blackburn Hawks 2 development team on Sunday.
The Hawks 2 team have been the whipping boys of the division all season but a Wild side depleted by injuries had struggled to beat them over the festive period, winning by a mere 4 – 2 at Planet Ice Widnes, so this was very much a welcome return to Wild form.
Interestingly enough, the game was quite close in its opening stages and it took until the sixth minute for Widnes to break down the stubborn Blackburn defence. MJ Clancy opened the scoring with a powerplay goal and Chris Gee doubled the advantage two minutes later.
Wild Under 18s player Sam Anderson scored for the third game in a row to make it 0 – 3 before the ten minute mark and then a first ever Wild goal for Liam Redwood – just back from injury – extended the lead even further. A second goal for Clancy and two strikes from Shaun Dippnall gave Widnes a 0 – 7 lead at the first period break and the game already looked pretty much lost from a Blackburn point of view.
The second period continued in similar vein with Dippnall scoring his hat-trick goal on 24 minutes and then two more goals from Chris Gee giving him a hat-trick around the mid point of the game. Just one further goal followed in the second period, scored by Wild’s Czech import Jakub Hajek and, with the score sitting at 0 – 11 you might have thought Widnes would ease off slightly at that stage of the game.
However, this Widnes side have had trouble in recent games converting their possession and shots into goals, so this was a perfect opportunity for the Wild players to hone their skills.
The third period saw an incredible goal rush with 12 goals being scored. The first came from Hajek just 44 seconds into the period and this was followed by strikes from Daniel Fay, Charlie Ratcliffe and MJ Clancy for his hat-trick.
Sam Anderson fired in a short-handed goal for his second of the game and new German import Daniel Haid followed up just 13 seconds later. Further goals from Redwood, Mike Mawer and Dippnall put the score at 0 – 20 for the Wild, matching their highest ever winning margin which had come against the Deeside Dragons 2 development side back in the 2017/18 season, when they beat them 22 – 2.
However, there was still five minutes to go in this game Mike Mawer fired in his second goal of the night and Chris Gee scored two more goals to land himself an incredible five-goal haul overall in the game.
The resulting 0 – 23 victory is the Wild’s highest ever goal tally in a competitive match and was also their biggest ever winning margin. While Chris Gee was the top goal scorer with 5 goals, Shaun Dippnall weighed in with a hefty 4 goals and 5 assists and Jakub Hajek contributed 2 + 5. Wild net minder Tom McDonald only faced 8 shots all evening and picked up a Shut Out.
It is very difficult to put into words quite how dominant the Wild were in this game. They peppered the Blackburn goal with 57 shots in the first period alone – which is more shots than are often seen in an entire game between two evenly matched sides. They followed this up with 39 shots in the second period and 38 in the third period and their grand total of 134 shots in a 60 minute game is most likely some sort of league record.
Every member of the Wild squad managed to get on the scoresheet with the exception of the two netminders so it was a very good all round performance.
The MVP Award for the Wild went to Chris Gee and, rather unusually, for the Hawks 2 went to Emma Pearson, who is better known as the team captain for the Widnes Wild women’s team. She made two guest appearances for the Wild NIHL team over the Christmas period and was playing for the Hawks 2 as a guest player for this game, due to their under-strength bench.
The Wild are next in action this Saturday 25th January, when they face the somewhat tougher prospect of a trip away to 3rd place Altrincham Aces – 7.00 pm face off. They are then at home on Sunday 26th January, when they take on the same opposition at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30 pm face off.