Wild's Matty Barlow (#89) renews acquaintances with former Widnes player MJ Clancy (Photo by Geoff White)
Saturday 8th October 2022 – M56 Cup
YKK Widnes Wild 4 – Deeside Dragons 6
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild slumped to a 4-6 defeat in the first game of the M56 cup at the hands of local rivals Deeside Dragons at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday.
This was the first meeting between two the teams for 2 ½ years because the Dragons' Queensferry home was taken over as an NHS treatment centre during the Coronavirus Pandemic and has only just recently opened up again as a leisure centre. The ice rink is not yet ready to stage matches so the Dragons are playing away games only for the time being.
Because of the close proximity between the two clubs and the regular interchange of players over the years, games between the Wild and the Dragons are always very passionate affairs.
The current Widnes squad includes Chris Gee, Calum Ruddick, Bez Hughes and Jake Lowndes, who have all played at Deeside in the past, while the Dragons have former Wild players MJ Clancy, Phil Pearson, Matthew Wainwright and also ex-Riverside Raiders netminder Mike Rogers in their ranks.
Saturday’s game had been much anticipated by both camps and was played at a breakneck pace throughout in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
The Dragons took the lead after just 46 seconds and then edged further ahead 10 seconds after that but Widnes quickly regrouped and pulled a goal back just 18 seconds later through Joe Greaves while benefitting from a delayed penalty call for interference.
It was level pegging just 2 minutes later when Andrew Hopkins fired in the Wild equaliser on a powerplay for another Dragons misdemeanour and then things settled down for a while.
Widnes took the lead on 12 minutes with a well-worked goal from Mikey Gilbert and 5 minutes later, it was 4-2 after a strike from Joey Coulter.
By now Widnes looked on fire and seemed likely to score again at any moment. They outshot the Dragons by 22 to 11 overall in the first period but there was to be a twist in the final seconds.
Deeside thought they had scored their 3rd goal of the game just as the clock ticked down to zero but the match officials decided that the puck had not crossed the line before the buzzer sounded and disallowed the goal.
The second period saw a much tighter performance from the visitors and, while Widnes outshot the Dragons again overall, they were unable to make the most of their chances. Deeside had better luck in front of goal, pulling a goal back on 33 minutes and then going on to equalise 3 minutes later to tie the game at 4-4 after two periods.
The third period was pretty similar to the second in as much as Widnes had plenty of puck possession and shots on goal but were unable to get past former Wild netminder Phil Pearson. The Dragons retook the lead on 47 minutes and then went 4-6 ahead 3 minutes after that.
The resulting 4-6 victory means that local bragging rights remain on the Welsh side of the border for the time being but, with the return cup fixture scheduled for 5th November and 4 Moralee Division meetings to come between the two teams as well, there is still plenty to look forward to this season.