The RTL sponsored Widnes Wild have the chance to put last Sunday night’s dramatic defeat in the promotion game well and truly behind them as they play Altrincham Aces in the first semi-final of the Laidler Conference play offs at iceSheffield this Saturday 8th April – 10.30 am face off.
Widnes tied Moralee Conference team Deeside Dragons 3-3 at the end of the 60 minutes regulation time before losing cruelly in sudden death overtime to a goal just 59 seconds from the end of the one off promotion / relegation game at Blackburn Arena that saw the Dragons retain their place in the higher division for next season. Despite the disappointment, the Wild players can take consolation from the fact that they kept pace with a side that finished just 3 points shy of a play-off place in the higher league and that should give them cause for optimism this weekend.
It will be the 7th time that Widnes have played Altrincham this season – with two challenge games back in August and the four regular Laidler games. The Wild won both friendly games and have the edge over the Aces in the competitive matches with a 2-1-1 record. The most recent game saw Altrincham charge into an impressive 2-5 lead at Silver Blades Widnes before 5 devastating unanswered goals handed Widnes the victory.
If Widnes win their semi-final game, they will take on the winner of Saturday’s other semi-final match – being played between champions Blackburn Eagles and fourth place finishers Sheffield Senators – in the Laidler final on Sunday afternoon.
The full timetable for the play off weekend at iceSheffield is as follows:
Saturday 8th April 2017
10.30 am: Laidler Semi Final 1 – Widnes Wild v Altrincham Aces
1.30 pm: Moralee Semi Final 1 – Billingham Stars v Blackburn Hawks
4.30 pm: Laidler Semi Final 2 – Blackburn Eagles v Sheffield Senators
7.30 pm: Moralee Semi Final 2 – Solway Sharks v Solihull Barons
Sunday 9th April 2017
12 noon: Presentation of NIHL Radio Player Awards
1.30 pm: Laidler Final
4.30 pm: Moralee Final
Looking ahead to the Play Off Weekend, Widnes Wild player coach Ollie Barron said:
“The team was obviously disappointed after last Sunday’s defeat but our season isn’t over. We have to regroup this week in practice and be ready to go again into the playoff weekend. We know the playoff series is anyone’s to win so we must prepare correctly for Saturday’s semi-final against the Aces.”
“I know I have said it a few times, but Sunday night’s support from the Wild Ones was superb and I hope to see as many fans over in Sheffield cheering us on.”
If SIX games aren’t already enough for you in one weekend, why not stay on at iceSheffield after the Solway v Solihull game on Saturday night and cheer on the Widnes-based Riverside Raiders who are playing their opening game in the Puckstop Summer Classic against the Sheffield Ice Tigers – 10.30pm face off!
Report by Paul Breeze (www.icehockeyreview.co.uk)
Photos by Geoff White (www.gw-images.com)