Wild player coach Richard Haggar (#19) was the hat-trick hero away at Nottingham on Sunday (Photo by Vanessa Xu)
Sunday 18th September – Moralee Division Nottingham Lions 2 – YKK Widnes Wild 5
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild picked up their first league points of the season with a well deserved 2-5 win away to Nottingham Lions on Sunday.
Away games in Nottingham are always tricky affairs – especially with a relatively late face-off and finishing time such as this one – but the Wild took all of this in their stride and, overall, had the better showing in the early stages of the match.
They outshot the Lions by 13 to 10 in the first period and the early pressure eventually paid off as they took the lead with a powerplay goal from player coach Richard Haggar in the 18th minute while the hosts were a man down to a tripping call.
The score remained 0-1 at the first break and the game remained finely balanced for the opening minutes of the second period. Matty Barlow extended the Widnes lead on 28 minutes – another powerplay for another tripping infringement – and then 3 minutes after that Haggar scored his second goal of the night on a delayed penalty call to give the Wild a 0-3 lead with just over half of the game gone.
The Widnes lead still stood at 0-3 at the second break but Nottingham came out fired up for the third and final period and adopted a more robust approach to try and salvage something from the game.
An even handed goal from Haggar to complete his hat trick edged the Wild even further ahead on 43 minutes but tensions boiled over with 10 minutes left to play and a series of fights broke out among the opposing players.
This saw Jack Murray, Rhys Edwards and Lee Kemp all banished to the penalty box for Widnes – along with 3 Nottingham players – soon to be joined by Matty Barlow on a separate holding call.
Wild Captain Tom Jackson was then ejected from the game and Nottingham made the most of the ensuing powerplays to fire in two quick goals and pull the score back to 2-4 with 4 minutes left on the clock.
With Widnes still shorthanded for another 3 minutes, this led to a highly frenetic finale that saw the Lions throw everything they had at the Widnes goal and Wild netminder Miles Finney making some crucial saves to keep them out.
Nottingham removed their netminder in favour of an extra attacker for the last minute of play – to try and force a late goal – but this was punished by an empty net strike for the Wild with just 7 seconds left, handing Matty Barlow his second goal of the game.
The resulting 2-5 win is doubly important as the results from the first meetings between each team in the league – home and away – also count towards qualification for the Moralee Cup competition, which the Wild won last season and are hoping to defend this time around.
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild play their first Moralee Division home fixture of the season this Sunday 25th September when they entertain the Whitley Warriors at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off. Widnes narrowly lost 4-3 to the Warriors in their league opener last weekend in the North East and will be looking to make amends on Sunday.