The Widnes Wild women’s team were involved in a highly enjoyable sixteen goal thriller in their pre-season challenge game against the Edinburgh-based Caledonia Steel Queens at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday, narrowly losing out 7-9.
This was the first home game for the Wild women since 1st March 2020 due to the various rink closures and Covid lockdowns and was the first time that fans had been able to see the team in action since they won the Division 1 North league title away in Dumfries, before the 2019/20 season was curtailed.
The Wild women’s team iced a largely inexperienced development team against the Steel Queens – with a number of players who are new to competitive ice hockey and, indeed, 4 were making their home Wild debuts.
The match started well for Widnes with new player Kaitlyn Kerr opening the scoring with her first ever Wild goal after just three minutes. The Steel Queens equalised on 13 minutes but Widnes edged back again just 90 seconds later with a second goal for Kerr.
The lead only lasted 13 seconds, however as the Scots equalised again and the score remained 2-2 at the first period break.
Widnes scored with a superb strike from Sav Sumner on 23 minutes to restore the lead but, once again, they were pegged back by a goal from the visitors some 4 minutes later. The same thing happened again at the mid-point of the game when Charlotte Cramp scored her first goal for Widnes on 32 minutes and the Steel Queens came back to level on 38 minutes.
Just when it looked as if the game would remain a stalemate heading into the second period break, the Wild women scored again with a goal from Kat Garner with just 70 seconds left on the clock. She repeated the feat just 12 seconds into the 3rd period to put Widnes 6-4 up and show daylight between the two teams for the first time in the game.
There were hopes that the numerically superior Widnes team might start to pull away at this point but the Caledonia team had other ideas and they pulled one goal back within 90 seconds.
The game was completely turned on it head in the 46th minute when a mix up in defence allowed the Steel Queens to equalise and then they skated straight down the ice from the resulting face off to score again and take the lead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they did the same thing with their very next attack as well to score a third goal in just 24 seconds. This put them 6-8 in the lead and left the Wild women a lot to do in the latter stages of the game.
Widnes did pull a goal back through a Danielle Skilander strike on 53 minutes but any hopes of a late Wild fightback were dashed by another Steel Queens goal 3 minutes later.
Overall this was a very entertaining game – played in the very best of spirits and with only 2 PIM being handed out in total. The teams were for the most part pretty evenly matched and, save for the dramatic events of the 46th minute, the result could easily have gone either way.
The Edith Smith Memorial MVP awards were presented by match volunteer Rebecca Clayton and went to Mikanshi Ashok for the Steel Queens and Kat Garner for Widnes.
The Wild women have two more pre-season games planned before they set out to defend their WNIHL Division 1 North league title when the season restarts in September.
They will be taking on Women’s Premier League opposition in the form of the Whitley Bay women’s team and the Bracknell Firebees on 21st and 28th August respectively – 3pm face off in each case.
- Saturday 24th July 2021 – Challenge Match
- Widnes Wild Women’s Team 7- Caledonia Steel Queens 9
- Period Scores: 2-2, 3-2, 2-5
- Shots On Goal: Wild 24 – Steel Queens 41
- Penalties In Minutes: Wild 2 – Steel Queens 0
- Match Officials: Chris Povall (Referee), Stephen French & Neil Herring (Linesmen)
Full Line-ups and Player Stats:
Widnes Wild Women’s Team: Charlotte Cramp 1+1, Suzanne Miller, Pamela England, Kaitlyn Kerr 2+2, 2 PIM, Emma Martin, Elizabeth Loss, Charlotte Jackson (NM), Nathalie Buckles, Charlotte McPhee, Jennifer Hickey 0+1, Jemma Brown 0+1, Katie Adshead, Sav Sumner 1+0, Kat Garner 2+0, Danielle Skilander 1+0, Laura Marcroft
Caledonia Steel Queens: Rhia Ghezzi-Frowde (NM), Lynne Sinclair, Emily Roberts, Rikki Moug, Charlotte Ackman, Rachel Janse Van Rensberg, Alison Brain 2+1, Rachel Brady, Kirsten Noble 2+0, Jaime Briggs, Joy Craighead 4+1, Naomi Robinson, Havana Tilly 1+0, Mikanshi Ashok
Report & Photos by Paul Breeze