After his crucial equalising goal against Sheffield on Sunday, the Wild’s Vlads Vulkanovs (#13) is the joint leading goal scorer in the Moralee Division so far this season with 14 goals from 9 games (Photo by Geoff White)
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild moved up into 3rd place in the Moralee Division table after two wins at the weekend that saw them beat Solihull Barons 4-5 away on Saturday and then secure a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over the Sheffield Scimitars at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
Winning away on Saturday might, on paper – at least – have appeared to have been the more difficult of the two tasks for the weekend but Sheffield arrived on Merseyside off the back of a 7-1 win over Blackburn the night before and were also looking to further improve their position in the league standings.
After a very close and evenly matched opening phase, it was the visitors who scored first – on 16 minutes – and the score remained 0-1 at the first period break.
A second goal for Sheffield 4 minutes into the second period set alarm bells ringing in the Yellow Camp but calm was restored just 27 seconds later with a goal from Jay Robinson to open the Widnes account for the night.
Widnes out-shot Sheffield for most of the game but the visiting netminder stubbornly kept them out and the score remained 1-2 after two periods.
The third period saw more Wild attacking and more staunch Sheffield defending, and it wasn’t until the 55th minute – an incredible 30 minutes since the previous goal – that Widnes finally equalised with a strike from Latvian import Vlads Vulkanovs.
With no more goals in the remaining 4 ½ minutes, the game went into sudden death overtime and the Wild surged forward once more. Widnes had by far the more chances on goal but – as the tension mounted around the rink – they were unable to bury the puck in the net.
The clock ticked down and with just 18 seconds left before a penalty shoot out would have to decide the winner, player coach Richard Haggar finally fired the puck home to secure the win for Widnes and round off a successful 4 –point weekend.
Those two wins – coupled with a surprise defeat for Solihull away to bottom club Nottingham, who hadn’t won a regular time league game since January 2018, mean that Widnes climb into third place in the Moralee Division table.
They are 9 points behind leading pair Solway Sharks and Whitley Warriors but have games in hand over both teams and plenty more games yet to play in the season.
The Wild do not play again until after the festive period and have two away games – at Solihull on Sunday 2nd January and Blackburn on Sunday 9th January – before their first home game of the new year, which will see them taking on Blackburn Hawks on Sunday 16th January at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off.
Before that, the Widnes Wild Ladies’ team continue their Women’s Premier League campaign with two home games – against Kingston Diamonds on Sunday 2nd January and Sheffield Shadows on 9th January, both 4.15pm face off.
The Wild NIHL team are also due to play a two-legged final in the Moralee Cup against Dundee Comets during January but, with all match dates already taken for that period, some fixtures may need to be changed to accommodate this. A further announcement will be made once details are known.