The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild gave their Laidler Division title hopes a welcome boost with a 13-1 win over the Blackburn Hawks N2 team at Silver Blades Widnes on Sunday.
It was a welcome return to the ice after the previous weekend’s cancelled game and brought an important two points to keep the Wild in touch with the other teams all vying for position at the top of the league table.
The Hawks development team had only won one game all season and that was against the Deeside Dragons development team so a Wild win always looked to be on the cards, but this match was not really as one sided as the final score suggests and, in fact, Blackburn battled hard and played well overall.
The first period was especially close and the Wild came under pressure early on as first Mike Mawer and then Tom Jackson were banished to the penalty box giving the Hawks a 5 on 3 advantage during which they came close to scoring the opening goal.
However the Wild weathered the storm and finally took the lead themselves in the 9th minute courtesy of a Nick Manning goal.
The Hawks hit back with an equaliser after 11 minutes, making the most of a powerplay while the Wild’s Geoff Wigglesworth was sitting out a slashing penalty, but the lead was restored some 90 seconds later when Manning hit his second goal of the game and gave the Wild the slimmest of advantages going into the first break.
The second period started off with the visitors playing their socks off and completely belying their league position, keeping the Wild attack at bay and recording their best “shots on goal” tally for the game in search of another equaliser. The next goal, however, went to Widnes with an Ollie Barron strike in the 28th minute to finally put some daylight between the two sides – and then the floodgates opened.
Three goals in less a minute – from Stuart Brittle at 30.54, Mikey Gilbert at 31.31 and Kyle Haslam at 31.49 – completely transformed the game and, from then on, the Wild were in complete control. A second goal from Haslam 4 minutes later and a second from Gilbert with a minute left in the period left the score standing at 8-1 for Widnes with little way back for the plucky Hawks team.
The third period started with an unfortunate incident with the Wild’s Lee Kemp colliding with the Blackburn netminder. Kemp was handed a 2-minute penalty for netminder interference but Pavel Vales managed to score a short handed goal and further extend the Widnes lead.
At this point the Hawks netminder Luke Wilson had to retire hurt from the game and, after a 10 minute break in proceedings, was replaced in goal by Evan Corner – a non netminder who bravely volunteered to don the pads as Blackburn didn’t have a back-up on the bench.
Four more goals followed for the Wild – from Lee Kemp, Stuart Brittle, Danny Bullock and team Captain Simon Offord but the biggest cheer of this closing phase was reserved for netminder Barry Sprakes – making his home debut for the Wild in the league – who replaced Matt Croyle in goal for the last 10 minutes of the game.
The final score of 13-1 was possibly a little harsh on the Blackburn development team but a win is a win and the resulting two points keep Widnes in the mix around the top of the Laidler Division table.
After the game, Wild head coach Ollie Barron said:
“Last night’s game was a much needed win and we played good spells of hockey especially in the second period. Credit to Blackburn as they didn’t stop working hard all night and they are a much improved team since the start of season.
“Next weekend sees two games at either end of the table. Telford have been in great form and picked up a couple of extra players so they are a very dangerous outfit. Our previous home games against them have ended in two victories so we will be heading to Telford looking to pick up two points. Shaun Dippnall will be available for selection as his ban will have expired.”
“Deeside on Sunday is another tricky fixtures. Our last meeting was one sided but, as we have seen in previous games, we cannot underestimate teams. We have to be firing on all cylinders looking to pick up the points.”
The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild are away to Telford Tigers this Saturday 10th February and then at home to the Deeside Dragons N2 team on Sunday 11th February at Silver Blades Widnes. Face-off is at 5.30pm and doors open at 4.45.
The Widnes-based Halton Huskies recreational team travelled to Lincolnshire to take on the Grimsby Stormers team in a challenge match on Saturday evening. It ended up as a bit of a one-sided affair against last year’s Summer Classic league champions and the Huskies lost 26-3.
The Huskies have two home games coming up over the next few weeks at Silver Blades Widnes – against the Whitley Bay Sharks on Sunday 18th February and the Sheffield Ice Tigers on Sunday 25th February. Face-off for each game is at 8.30pm and admission is free.
Sunday 4th February 2018 – Laidler Division
Widnes Wild 13 – Blackburn Hawks N2 1
Period Scores: 2-1, 6-0, 5-0
Shots on Goal: Widnes 58 – Blackburn 24 (17-4, 20-11, 21-9)
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 16 – Blackburn 2
Widnes Scoring: Stuart Brittle 2+4, Mikey Gilbert & Nick Manning 2+3, Kyle Haslam 2+0, Ollie Barron 1+3, Danny Bullock 1+2, Lee Kemp & Pavel Vales 1+1, Simon Offord 1+0, Geoff Wigglesworth 0+4, Ken Armstrong 0+1
Match Officials: Richard Fraley – Referee, Ray Ormes – Linesman, Nathan Carmichael – Linesman