Sunday 16th January 2022 – Moralee Division: YKK Widnes Wild 3 – Blackburn Hawks 4
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild slipped to the bottom half of the Moralee Division table after a frustrating 3-4 home defeat at the hands of north west rivals Blackburn Hawks at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
This was the first home game of the new year for the Wild and was keenly anticipated after the previous meeting between the two teams the week before in East Lancashire ended in a draw and was only won by the Hawks in sudden death overtime.
As is usual with games against Blackburn, the match was played at a furious pace and the sizeable lively crowd contributed to the atmosphere.
The opening period was played out goal-less, which is quite unusual in ice hockey, and the first breakthrough came 70 seconds into the second period when the Hawks opened the scoring.
The Wild had much of the play in this period and outshot the visitors by 2 to 1 but couldn’t find a way past the stubborn Blackburn defence. They finally managed a breach with just 16 seconds to go in the period when Liam Charnock fired home to level the score at 1-1.
Blackburn edged ahead again on 43 minutes but Widnes equalised once more 80 seconds later with a goal from former Hawks player Joe Greaves. Blackburn struck again to retake the lead 12 seconds after that and Widnes had to regroup and start again.
The Wild managed to equalise for the third time through a Tom Stubley strike with 10 minutes left on the clock, setting the scene for another dramatic finale.
Unfortunately for the yellow camp, despite chances at both ends, it was Blackburn who scored the next goal – on 57 minutes – and that turned out to be the decider.
The MVP awards went to Matty Barlow for Widnes and former Widnes rec netminder Mike Rogers for Blackburn who, in all fairness, had a very good game and turned away 39 of the 42 shots that he faced.
After the game Widnes netminder Harrison Walker was announced as being Wild Player Of the Month for December, having been voted in a fans’ poll on Twitter.
The result leaves 4 teams locked together on 14 points in the Moralee Division table, with Solihull, Sheffield, Blackburn and Widnes occupying third to sixth place, in that order.
With Billingham just points behind on 12 in 7th place, there is still much to play for with the season only halfway through and Widnes having one or more games in hand over all the other teams in the league.
The Wild are next in action this Saturday 22nd January when they travel away to face Sheffield Scimitars in the “steel city” – 7.30pm face off. They are then at home the day after when they take on Nottingham Lions at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30pm face off.
The Widnes Wild Ladies team are away to Bristol Huskies at the recently opened Planet Ice rink in Bristol on Sunday, 4.45pn face off.