Wild’s Bez Hughes (#20) in action away at Blackburn on Sunday. (Photo by Geoff White)
Sunday 9th January 2022 – Moralee Division. Blackburn Hawks 5 – YKK Widnes Wild 4 (OT)
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild narrowly lost out to North West rivals Blackburn Hawks 5-4 in their first game of 2022 which was eventually decided by a dramatic sudden death strike in overtime on Sunday evening.
Widnes actually took the lead in the 8th minute with a goal from Nathan Britton and still led 0-1 at the first period break, however Blackburn upped their game considerably in the second period and mounted a strong recovery.
The Hawks equalised just 3 minutes into the period and then went ahead via a Penalty Shot on 36 minutes after Mikey Gilbert was called for tripping.
The Wild had a much better third period and levelled the score again just 33 seconds from the puck drop with a goal from Tom Stubley. Blackburn scored again to re-establish a slender lead just 3 minutes afterwards but Widnes player coach Richard Haggar fired in to restore parity once more 2 minutes after that to leave the game finely balanced at 3-3 with 14 minutes left to play.
The game could have gone either way at this point and the next breakthrough fell to Widnes as Haggar scored his second goal of the game to put the Wild back in the lead on 50 minutes. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to build further on this and Blackburn drew level again on 52 minutes and the game remained deadlocked at the end of the regulation 60 minutes’ playing time.
This sent the game into sudden death overtime to decide a winner and it was the Hawks who emerged triumphant with a “golden goal” at 63.14.
Blackburn receive 2 league points for the Overtime Win and Widnes get 1 point for having drawn at the end of regulation time. This leaves the league table in a fascinating position as just 2 points separate the team in positions 3 to 7. The Wild are currently in 4th place in the Moralee Division table with 14 points – level with 3rd place Solihull and 5th place Sheffield, although they have games in hand over both.
Just behind them are Billingham and Blackburn both on 12 points and, with the Wild due to play the Hawks again this Sunday at Planet Ice Widnes, there will be a lot riding on that game.