The Widnes Wild women’s team have had their WNIHL Division 1 North league title win formally ratified by the League Management Committee. While there was never really much doubt that this would happen, the cancellation of league ice hockey across the country on 16th March due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic has caused a huge upheaval and, with it, an administrative nightmare as to how to deal with unplayed games and the final league tables.
The Wild Women’s 2 – 4 win away to Solway Sharks Ladies gave them enough points to secure the league title outright despite other teams still having matches to play but the fact that the D1 North competition was closer to completion anyway made that the simplest to wrap up first.
The League Management Committee’s subsequent decision to record all outstanding fixtures as 0 – 0 draws with no points being given to either side, was, certainly from an administrative point of view the easiest way to resolve this situation, but it has created other problems across the leagues that now need resolving.
In the finalised Division 1 North table, Widnes finish top with 16 points, having completed nine of their ten league fixtures. Solway Sharks Ladies finish in second place with 14 points from ten games, having played all their games for the season. Last season’s League Champions, Telford Wrekin Raiders, now finish in third place with 12 points from eight games played. They had two more matches still to come – home and away against Grimsby Wolves – and would have probably expected to have won those two games had the season run its full course. Realistically, Telford would have finished in second place in the league table had things turned out differently.
All of this leaves a question mark over the promotional play offs – which were due to be held at iceSheffield at the end of May but which have now, obviously, been cancelled. The top two teams in Division 1 North were to have met the top two teams in Division 1 South to play off for a place in the Women’s Premier League next season. With automatic promotion between the Women’s Premier League and the Women’s Elite League also to be finalised, further decisions will have to be made as to how these promotion and relegation issues are to be resolved.
The two national leagues above Division 1 North were not as advanced in their playing seasons and most of the teams have had to see 5 or more games written off.
The Women’s Elite League saw Solihull Vixens awarded the league title with 26 points from 13 games played whereas perennial winners of the title, Bracknell Queen Bees, were on 25 points with 6 games left to play when the league was suspended.
The Women’s Premier League competition saw an equally frustrating finish, with Swindon Top Cats finishing in first place with 15 points with six games left to play, with Bracknell Firebees in second place, also on 15 points and three games left to play. Behind them, came both Whitley Squaws and Chelmsford Cobras who had 11 points each at the time of the league curtailment and six games each left to play.