Dani Haid (#44) scores the first goal of the new season for the Wild (Photo by Geoff White)
Sunday 4th September – Challenge Match YKK Widnes Wild 6 – Sutton Sting 2
The YKK sponsored Widnes played their first game of the new 2022/23 NIHL season, notching up a 6-2 win in a challenge game against Sutton Sting at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
As is usual in ice hockey, there have been a lot of player movements during the summer months and Wild player coach Richard Haggar has put together an exciting looking new squad with a healthy blend of experience and young talent.
Sunday’s game saw Wild debuts for 6 new players who have joined the returning squad members from last year, including netminder Miles Finney and forward Joey Coulter, who both played National Division hockey last season.
Outstanding youth prospects Rhys Edwards (from Bradford) and Adam Jasecko – originally from Slovakia but more recently from Hull’s junior teams – both impressed in their first game in Widnes colours and Andrew Hopkins and Jonho Williamson – both summer joinees from along up the M56 in Altrincham – made their first Wild appearances while long term favourite Calum Ruddick, who played in the Wild’s first ever game back in August 2013 has also made a welcome return to the club.
After a tense opening phase, Widnes eventually took the lead on 5 minutes with a strike from Danny Haid.
There were numerous chances after this at both ends but nothing came of them and, just as it looked as if that was it for the first period, Mikey Gilbert fired in a late goal with 5 seconds left on the clock, to give the Wild a two goal advantage at the first break.
Three minutes into the second period Jack Murray scored to put Widnes 3-0 ahead but Sutton pulled a goal back with their first strike of the game just seconds later.
Two quick goals within just 20 seconds of each – from Mikey Gilbert and Joey Coulter – put Widnes further ahead and then a second goal of the night from Haid made the score 6-1 with half of the game still to go.
Sutton pulled another goal back just before the break to round off an exciting 6-goal period, leaving the score standing at 6-2 after 40 minutes of play.
Despite numerous chances for both teams, the third period was played out goal-less and the match finished as a 6-2 victory for the Wild.
After the game, the awards for Most Valuable Player were presented to Rhys Edwards for Widnes and Cameron Kushnirenko for Sutton.
The Wild play their first league game of the new season next Sunday 11th September when they make the long journey to the North East to take on Whitley Warriors – 5pm face off.
The following Sunday they are away to Nottingham Lions and then play their first home league game of the season on Sunday 25th September when they take on Whitley at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30pm face off.
BRITISH PARA ICE HOCKEY PLAY OFFS
For any Widnes fans who are not going to the Wild game away at Whitley on Sunday, there is still plenty of ice hockey action on show at Planet Ice Widnes over the weekend as the British Para Ice Hockey Play Off will be taking place at the venue.
The top 4 finishing teams in the league will meet in two semi-finals on the Saturday 10th September with league champions Cardiff Huskies playing the Sheffield Steelstings development side starting at 5.30pm and then the Widnes-based Mayhem taking on the league runners up Sheffield Steelkings.
On Sunday, the losers of the two semi finals will meet in the third place decider at 4pm, followed by the play off final between the two winners straight afterwards.
Admission is free for all 4 games.