Photo by Geoff White
Sunday 1st December 2019: YKK Widnes Wild 5 – Bradford Bulldogs 2 (NIHL Laidler Division)
The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild gave their Laidler Division title defence a huge boost with a 5 – 2 win over current league leaders Bradford Bulldogs at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
Prior to the weekend, Bradford had won 10 of their 13 league games, including a 5 – 1 victory over the Wild in West Yorkshire a month ago, whereas Widnes have been playing mainly cup games in recent weeks and have a number of games to catch up in the league competition.
This game was very closely contested and the result could have easily gone either way until Widnes made sure of the points with a late flurry.
After a very tense opening, Bradford actually took the lead on 15 minutes with a goal from their Slovakian import Tomas Mitrik but the lead lasted only a minute before Shaun Dippnall scored to put the Wild back on level terms.
The score remained 1 – 1 at the first period break and, indeed, remained so well into the second period. The Wild had several power play opportunities but were unable to take advantage of the extra man on the ice until the 39th minute, when team captain Danny Bullock punished a Bradford slashing call with a well-taken goal to edge Widnes into the lead.
However with the score standing at 2 – 1 at the second break, there was still a lot of work for Widnes to do in the third period and the league leaders were still providing very serious opposition.
The mounting tension around the rink was alleviated somewhat when M.J. Clancy fired home to give the Wild a 2 goal cushion on 45 minutes. However, Bradford pulled a goal back with Mitrik’s second strike of the evening on 49 minutes and the game remained on a knife edge.
A goal from Matt Tarpey in the 57th minute restored the Wild’s 2 goal advantage and a goal from Widnes’ former Bradford player Ryan Kemp made sure of the win with just 58 seconds to go on the clock.
Despite this victory, Bradford remain top of the Laidler Division table and Widnes remain in 7th place – 12 points behind top spot – although they do have 5 or more games in hand over all the other teams.
During the post-match handshakes, Wild Academy junior player Ollie Cliffe had his hair cut off on the ice for charity.
The kind-hearted Under 11s player had originally started to grow his hair long to emulate some of his Widnes ice hockey heroes but then decided to donate his hair to the Little Princess Trust who make wigs out of donated hair for children and young people who have lost their own hair due to cancer. Ollie has also been raising money for the charity and is well on the way to his £500 target.
On-ice barber for the night Michael Wilde presented the MVP Awards accompanied by Ollie’s father, Danny Cliffe of DMH Tyres, who are one of the Wild’s sponsors this season and were match sponsors for the game. The awards went to Chris Butler for Bradford Bulldogs and netminder Philip Pearson for Widnes Wild.
The Wild are next in action this Saturday 7th December 2019, when they travel away to play the Telford Tigers 2 team – face off 7.00 p.m. They are next at home on Sunday 8th December when they entertain local rivals Deeside Dragons at Planet Ice, Widnes – face off 5.30 p.m.
The game on Sunday will see the club’s annual Christmas “Teddy Toss” event where supporters are invited to bring along soft toys which will be thrown onto the ice at a specific point in the game and gathered up to be given to sick children who will be in hospital over the Christmas period, and other worthy causes.
Because they all come into contact with the ice surface (which is wet…), fans are asked to make sure that their soft toys are wrapped up in plastic so that they don’t get damaged, otherwise they can’t be used. For health and safety reasons, toys must be new but in previous years any toys that were damaged or unsuitable to be given to children were taken to the dogs home – so nothing went to waste!
“Sleeping Beauty On Ice” Showcase
During the first period break, spectators were treated to a superb figure skating demonstration, showcasing highlights from the “Sleeping Beauty on Ice” Show which is being staged at Planet Ice Widnes on Wednesday, 18th December 2019.
Members of the Widnes Ice Skating Club Chloe Taylor, Lydia Wignall and Faye Mercer delighted the crowd with taster performances of their roles as the Fairy Evelyn, the Queen and Sleeping Beauty, respectively.