Sunday 4th December 2022 – Moralee Division
YKK Widnes Wild 3 – Solway Sharks 4 (OT)
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild had a rollercoaster of a game against Solway Sharks before ultimately crashing to a heartbreaking 3-4 overtime defeat at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The Sharks are defending champions this season and currently top the Moralee Division once again so the Wild knew that it would need a very special performance if they were to get anything out of the game.
The first period was very closely matched and it took until the 9th minute for the first breakthrough when Solway took the lead. The Wild fought back, giving as good as they got in terms of shots on goal and puck possession and their efforts were rewarded with just 17 seconds left in the period with an equalising goal from player coach Richard Haggar.
The second period continued in similar vein with Solway having more shots but Widnes making more of their chances. A goal from Tom Barry on 26 minutes fired them into the lead and then a strike from Rhys Edwards on 33 minutes doubled the advantage. With Widnes leading 3-1 after two periods, it looked as if a first ever league victory over the Sharks could well be on the cards.
Widnes thought they had scored a 4th goal just 2 minutes into the 3rd period when the puck went into the net off Lee Kemp’s stick. Unfortunately, the match officials decided that his stick was too high and the goal was disallowed.
This let-off seemed to give the Sharks an extra boost and they pulled a goal back on 47 minutes. Widnes continued to push forward to try and make sure of the result but were unable to get past the impressive Solway netminder.
The visitors upped their own performance in search of a late equaliser and the whole game turned in dramatic fashion in the dying seconds.
The Sharks found themselves attacking the Widnes goal with a minute left to play and they removed their netminder in favour of an extra attacker. The Wild were unable to clear the puck and get a shot in on the empty goal at the other end and were hemmed in by the last ditch Solway attack.
The sustained offensive pressure of the swarming Sharks proved too much for the Wild defence and Solway managed to force the puck into the net and tie the game with just 18.6 seconds left on the clock.
This led to an extra 5 minute Overtime period where a sudden-death goal would decide the overall winner.
With just 3 players against 3 on the ice for OT, this was incredibly tense with no room for error. Widnes had plenty of puck possession but were unable to mount any sort of sustained attack against the Solway net and they were eventually undone by a Sharks breakaway which led to the winning goal for the visitors at 62.16.
The overtime defeat gives Widnes one league point for having tied at the end of regulation time and Solway get two points for the win.
The Wild have back to back matches against the Blackburn Hawks this weekend, when they entertain them in the second leg of the North West Cup on Saturday 10th December at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off - and then face them away in the league on Sunday.
Having lost the away leg of the cup tie 3-2 in East Lancashire a couple of weeks ago, Widnes have to win on Saturday by two clear goals to secure the trophy.
Saturday’s game also sees the Wild’s annual “Teddy Toss” event where supporters are encouraged to donate soft toys that will be distributed to local charities and good causes over the Christmas period.
At a pre-arranged point during the game everyone throws their toys onto the ice and, to avoid them getting damaged by surface water, fans are asked to make sure that their donations are securely wrapped in plastic before propelling them rink-wards.
As it will be the Wild’s last home game before Christmas, fans are also encouraged to wear Christmas jumpers and other festive attire.