Wild 1 – Sting 3

Wild’s Chris Gee (#46) celebrates Ryan Kemp’s equalising goal against Sutton Sting  (Photo by Geoff White)

Sunday 20th October 2019: YKK Widnes Wild 1 – Sutton Sting 3 (Midland Cup)

The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild put in another spirited performance against higher league opposition in the Midland Cup but ultimately lost out 1 – 3 to Sutton Sting at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.

The Wild are taking part in the Midland Cup this season as part of Head Coach Mike Clancy’s three-year plan to build a Widnes team that is capable of competing at a higher level on a regular basis. The aim this season is to use these games to gauge the difference in levels of competition between the 2 divisions and, like previous games against Nottingham Lions and Solihull Barons, Clancy will be able to take heart from this Wild performance.

Sunday’s game had a rather odd look about it as saw Widnes playing in their “away colours” of black. This was due to a colour clash as the home team normally wears the lighter colour but Sutton arrived with only yellow shirts to play in and, in such circumstances, the home club is usually expected to change.

It is very difficult to put into words quite how close this game actually was. A 0–0 period score is quite rare in ice hockey anyway and almost unthinkable when a Laidler team takes on a team from the Moralee Division. But that is exactly what we got in the first period and, with just 1 minor penalty handed out, the opening 20 minutes was a fascinating display of flowing end-to-end hockey.

The second period continued in similar vein, with the first breakthrough not coming until the 27th minute, when former Wild player George Crawshaw opened the scoring for Sutton.

The teams were level just 4 minutes later, when Ryan Kemp equalised for the Wild and then , despite 3 powerplay opportunities during the period, Widnes were unable to build on this and take the lead. With the score standing at a tantalisingly close 1 – 1 at the second period break, both sides still had lots to play for.

The third period was just as tense, with both teams having chances. Sutton edged into the lead on 46 minutes but, with 14 minutes still to play, the Wild looked comfortable and there was still time for them to come back.

Unfortunately, Widnes picked up a string of minor penalties in the latter stages of the period, which left them under pressure at the back and a powerplay goal for the Sting with just 3 minutes left to play left the Wild with too big a mountain to climb.

Despite the 1-3 defeat, this really was an excellent performance by the Wild against higher League opposition and was highly entertaining to watch.

With such a low-scoring game, it was quite fitting that both netminders received the MVP awards and Kelly Marks, the Community Fundraiser from the Wild’s chosen charity for the season, Stick ‘n’ Step, presented the accolades to the Sting’s Ben Ward and Wild’s Philip Pearson.

The Wild return to Laidler Division league action on Saturday, 2nd November 2019, away to league leaders Bradford Bulldogs and then play Altrincham Aces at home the following evening at Planet Ice Widnes.

They are without a game this coming weekend, so the spotlight firmly falls on the Wild Academy whose Under 18 and Under 11 teams have home games at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday.

 

*****

The Widnes Wild Women’s Team moved to the top of the WNIHL Division 1 North Table at the weekend, despite not actually setting a foot on ice.

It’s very early on in the Women’s ice hockey season, with few games having been played and this has left 4 teams level with 2 points each. In Ice hockey, teams that are tied on points are usually separated by results in games between the two teams but, as most of the teams haven’t played each other yet this season, positions are decided by goal difference instead.

With the previous leaders, Grimsby Wolves, losing to Sheffield Shadows on Saturday, their goal difference has suffered and they dropped down into third place with both Widnes and Telford overtaking them into first and second places respectively.

The Wild women’s next game isn’t until 16th November, when they travel away to face Telford, who were last season’s league champions.

 

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