The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild rounded off their most successful season to date in fine fashion, by winning the Laidler Division Play Off title for the third time in a row with a 6-3 win over Hull Jets at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The Laidler Division Play Off weekend was staged at the Planet Ice rink in Widnes for the second year running and involved the top four highest finishing teams in the league at the end of the regular season – with two semi finals on Saturday and the final on Easter Sunday.
The first semi final saw Widnes beat Bradford Bulldogs while Hull Jets beat Telford Tigers2 in the later game, setting up a mouth-watering repeat of last year’s semi final between these two teams which took overtime and sudden death penalty shoot-out to decide the winner.
In the final on Sunday between Widnes and Hull, Wild player coach Ollie Barron helped settle any early nerves by firing the Wild into the lead after just 5 minutes of play. A second goal followed from Danny Bullock with just 60 seconds left in the period and the Wild took a 2-0 lead into the first break.
Widnes scored three more goals – from Tom Jackson, Jakub Hajek and Ross Jordan – to build up a healthy 5-0 lead before Hull finally managed to find the back of the net in the 37th minute.
The Humbersiders noticeably upped their game after this breakthrough and two more strikes for the Jets in the third period set up a nerve-jangling finale.
The last 5 minutes were all Hull as they laid siege to the Widnes goal, with netminder Matt Croyle and the dogged Wild defence performing wonders to keep the puck out of the net.
The Jets removed their netminder for the last 60 seconds of the game to allow for an extra attacking player and, but with just 20 seconds left on the clock, the Wild’s Jakub Hajek broke out of defence and skated the length of the ice to fire in an empty net goal, which finally put the result beyond all doubt.
The Wild’s third play off win in a row, added to this season’s Laidler Division championship title, represents an impressive haul of trophies from player coach Ollie Barron’s three seasons in charge at the club – even more so as he had no coaching experience before taking over the reins at Widnes in the summer of 2016.