The RTL-sponsored Widnes Wild ice hockey team will be looking to retain the play off trophy that they won last year when they take part in the NIHL North Laidler Division Play Offs this weekend, 14th and 15th April, at Planet Ice Widnes.
The Wild beat the Sheffield Senators 2-1 in a closely fought final last April at iceSheffield to secure the first piece of silverware in their history and, having missed out on the league title again this year, will be hoping to end the season on a high note with a trophy win in front of their home fans.
The semi-final line-up has finally been established after the Wild were officially named runners-up by the League. The Management Committee awarded them three points from the two away games that were left unplayed at the end of the regular season and this lifted them from 4th place up into second.
The Wild were handed a 0-5 away win, and two league points, for the game away at Hull Jets because the hosts had been unable to ice a team for the arranged date – and the game away at Deeside was awarded as a 0-0 draw with one point being awarded to each team as the game had to be called off because match officials were not able to get to the venue due to adverse weather conditions.
The three additional points mean that Widnes end up on the same total as Hull Jets – 52 – but finish above them in the league table by virtue of a better head-to-head record in games between the two teams.
Ironically, those two teams will now meet in the second semi final of the Play Offs which faces off at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday at 7.30pm.
League champions Sutton Sting play fourth place Telford Tigers in the first semi final, which faces off at 4.30pm on Saturday and the winners of the two semi finals meet in the Play Off final on Sunday, face off 5.30pm.
Interestingly enough, Widnes have a better head to head record against all three of the other semi-finalists, having also beaten both Sutton Sting and Telford Tigers by 3 to 1 in the series of four games between the teams.
The only team to have a superior record over the Wild over the course of the season was the Sheffield Senators who won 3 games to 1. Both Altrincham Aces and Bradford Bulldogs had “2 and 2” records against the Wild, although in each case Widnes came out on top overall with aggregate scores of 12-9 and 18-7 respectively.
The Laidler Division Play Off weekend at Planet Ice Widnes is an all-ticket event with only a very few “standing-only” tickets left available. For last minute ticket information, supporters are advised to call the Box Office on 0151 420 7930.
Report by Paul Breeze