The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild had a disappointing weekend in the NIHL North Three Rivers Cup, losing narrowly in overtime away to Nottingham Lions 6-5 on Saturday and then being overturned 3-9 at home to Sheffield Scimitars at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
Four points from the weekend would have put Widnes level at the top of the table with Sheffield – and still in with a chance of winning their second cup of the post-Covid period – but it was not to be and Sheffield were instead confirmed as cup winners after the overtime loss on Saturday.
Saturday 15th May: Nottingham Lions 6 – YKK Widnes Wild 5 (OTL)
The away game at Nottingham started off at a furious pace with plenty of chances for both teams. The Lions eventually took the lead with a goal on 18 minutes but Widnes pegged them straight back with a strike from Brady Doxey and the score was level at 1-1 at the end of the first period.
The second period followed a similar pattern to the first with long periods of possession for both sides and numerous chances but with nobody being able to make a breakthrough. Nottingham finally managed to break down the stubborn Wild defence with a powerplay goal in the 36th minute to retake the lead and the score remained at 2-1 to the Lions at the second period break.
The third period started well for Widnes as Kieran Beach fired in the equaliser – his first goal for the Wild. This was followed, however, by a disastrous spell where the Lions scored three unanswered goals, to lead 5-2 with 9 minutes left play.
Widnes kept their heads and pulled a goal back just 60 seconds later with a strike from Kieran Brown. They kept plugging away and were rewarded when Adam Barnes put the puck away to further narrow the score 5-4 with just 90 seconds left to play.
The tension mounted and the drama escalated when Lewis Baldwin forced in an equaliser with just 41 seconds left on the clock. This tied the score at 5-5 and sent the game into a deciding overtime period. Unfortunately, Widnes were not able to carry their momentum into the additional 5 minutes and Nottingham scored the game winning golden goal with just 40 seconds gone.
Sunday 16th May: YKK Widnes Wild 3 – Sheffield Scimitars 9
The home game against Sheffield Scimitars started off very well for Widnes. They had most of the play in the first period and outshot the visitors by an incredible 21 to 6 over the 20 minutes. Unfortunately they were unable to make the most of their early superiority and the score remained 0-0 at the first period break.
These failings in front of goal came back to haunt the Wild as Sheffield emerged much more fired up for the second period and were able to make the most of their own chances when they came. The Scimitars took the lead with a shorthanded goal just 63 seconds into the period and went on to lead 0-3 by the midway point in the game.
Two more quick fire goals within 30 seconds of each other on 34 minutes rocked the Wild and saw them trailing 0-5. However, they fought back and finally scored a goal of their own on 35 minutes through team captain Joe Coulter.
Another goal for Sheffield just 2 minutes after that restored the 5-goal cushion and the score stood at 1-6 at the second period break.
Widnes scored again early in the third period with a powerplay goal from Brady Doxey but once more Sheffield struck back to maintain the deficit. They edged further ahead on 48 minutes but the Wild managed to claw another goal back through Mikey Gilbert just 30 seconds later – however, that was as good as it got for the Widnes team.
A 9th goal for Sheffield on 55 minutes rounded off the scoring for the game and handed them a comprehensive 3-9 victory.
The game had been relatively penalty free but tempers boiled over with a flare up with 4 ½ minutes left to play and both Kieran Brown for Widnes and Sheffield’s hat-trick hero Ruskin Hughes both received 2+2+10 minutes for fighting. In the aftermath, Wild’s James Barry also picked up a 10 minute misconduct penalty for abusing the match officials and also had to sit out the rest of the game.
The weekend’s results mean that Widnes finish their NIHL North Three Rivers Cup campaign with 7 points from 8 games and finish second in the final group table behind Sheffield. The Scimitars meet Nottingham next weekend in the last game of the series and could finish 7 points clear at the top of the table if they win that match.
Looking back over the weekend’s games, Wild player coach Richard Haggar said:
“Saturday was a roller coaster of a game, which swung both ways throughout the 60 minutes. Finding ourselves behind to 3 quick goals from Nottingham with 10 minutes to play we called a time out, regrouped and went again. The team gave everything and to equalise in the last minute of the game showed the fight and determination in the dressing room we have.”
“Unfortunately, we didn’t finish the job – which was hard to take, but it was another example of the hockey put on show by all 3 teams in this series and how any of the games could go either way.”
“Going into Sunday, we started really well. Outplaying and outshooting Sheffield in the 1st period doing all the right things bar getting the goal to put us ahead. Falling behind early in the second really knocked the wind out of our sails and we continued to battle but were unable to get back into the game.”
“It was a disappointing result but it’s been an excellent series throughout with lots of close and exciting games. The step up in level for Widnes was a real learning curve and we showed a taste of what’s to come for the Wild going forward.”
The Wild Academy Under 13 team lost out to Coventry U13s in the Planet Ice Cup at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
It was a rather one-sided encounter all round against a team who usually play in a higher division and the Wild youngsters found themselves outshot by 47 to 8 over the course of the three periods.
The scoring actually ended up as 1 -20 in favour of the visitors but, due to a “mercy rule” that prevents big scorelines which might otherwise undermine the confidence of young developing players, scoring is stopped once one team or the other builds up an 8-goal margin. In this case, the officially recorded score for the game is 1-9.
The only goal for Widnes was scored by Jared Knowles in the 8th minute.