The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild opened their Laidler Division account for the new season with a hard fought 4-3 win over Sheffield Senators at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
This was a really enjoyable game to watch – with end to end action throughout – played in very good spirit by both teams and with the result being in doubt right until the very last seconds.
Former Sheffield player Stuart Brittle opened the scoring for the Wild after just 4 minutes of play and, with Widnes out-shooting the visitors by two to one in the first period, the score could and probably should have been more than 1-0 at the first break.
It was midway through the second period before the next goal went in – again to the Wild and scored by defenceman Lee Kemp who had just come charging out of the penalty box to join the attack. The two goal advantage did not last long, however, as Sheffield fired in their first goal just 2 minutes later.
Daylight was re-established between the two teams with a great short handed goal from one of the Wild’s Czech signings for the new season, Jakub Hajek, to give Widnes a 3-1 lead heading into the second break.
The third period saw Sheffield up their game considerably and they out-shot Widnes by 25 to 13 in the last 20 minutes. A Senators’ goal in the 51st minute halved the deficit and left the score standing at a rather precarious 3-2 with almost 10 minutes left to play.
The nerves were settled somewhat with a goal from the Wild’s second Czech player Michal Novak with the clock standing at 58.15 but Sheffield hit back again with a goal 59 seconds later and could very easily have fired a late equaliser in the final seconds.
The Wild defence held firm, however, and players and fans alike were able to celebrate a winning start to the new season.
The Wild are without a match next weekend and are next in action away to the Senators on Saturday 22nd September before hosting early season league leaders Bradford Bulldogs the night after at Planet Ice Widnes.
After the game, player coach Ollie Barron said:
“I thought last night’s game was an improvement from the previous week. I thought we started well in the first and second periods but, in the third, I felt we allowed Sheffield back into the game and we must play and work hard as a team for the full 60 minutes.”
“There were plenty of positives to take from the game and I’m impressed with the new guys, I thought Jakub Hajek put in a excellent performance, and deservedly picked up the MVP award.”
“It was also nice to see Michal Novak register his first Wild goal. Michal has a great skill set and I’m sure when he gets back up to full speed after 4-5 seasons of not playing competitive hockey, he’ll make a huge contribution to the team. Our third line grafted all night and did their job.”
“Sheffield are a hard working team, but we must convert more of our chances, although this will come as this was only our second game together.”
“We have a weekend off, before facing Sheffield away again and then the Bulldogs at home. We will work hard in practice in the next 2 weeks, to sharpen up. Thanks again to the great fans who packed out the stands – see you all on the weekend of 22/23rd!”
The Widnes Wild women’s team open their EIHA Women’s Premier League campaign this Sunday 16th September with a game away at Milton Keynes Falcons (6.30pm face off). They have 4 away games in a row before their first home game – which will be on Sunday 9th December against newly promoted Whitley Squaws at Planet Ice Widnes.
Sunday 9th September 2018 – Laidler Division
Widnes Wild 4 – Sheffield Senators 3
Period Scores: 1-0, 2-1, 1-2
Shots on Goal: Widnes 59 – Sheffield 37 (19-8, 15-16, 25-13)
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 26 – Sheffield 24
Widnes Scoring: Jakub Hajek 1+2, Stuart Brittle 1+0, Lee Kemp 1+0, Michal Novak 1+0, Mikey Gilbert 0+2, Simon Offord & Danny Bullock 0+1
Match Officials: Adam Hands – Referee, Faye Andrews – Linesman, Tom Walker – Linesman
MVPs: Widnes: Jakub Hajek / Sutton: Stephen Weeks
Match report by Paul Breeze – www.icehockeyreview.co.uk
Photos by Geoff White – www.gw-images.com