Sunday 30th October WNIHL Div 2 N
Widnes Wild Ladies 7 – Sheffield Shadows 5
The Widnes Wild Ladies team gave their title challenge a boost with a highly entertaining 7-5 win over Sheffield Shadows at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The game saw a Wild league debut for Rebecca Donnelly and first home appearance of the new campaign for Sav Sumner - who was the first ever Widnes born and trained player to play in a league ice hockey fixture in the town back in 2016 and is back with the Wild women after playing for Whitley Bay in the Women’s Elite League last season.
This was a very topsy-turvy game with both teams playing with a lot of spirit and enthusiasm and fortunes quickly switching in the end to end encounter.
Sheffield actually took the lead on 6 minutes with a powerplay goal and then doubled the advantage just 90 seconds later to take a 0-2 lead into the first period break
A third goal followed just 90 seconds after that – a debut strike from Lise Gillen – and Widnes were suddenly in the lead.
After a fairly even first period in terms of shots on goal (17-10) and puck possession, Widnes had the upper hand for much of the second period. A Sheffield player picked up a 5 minute major penalty for boarding on 27 minutes and the Shadows had to play 4 on 5 for that entire time.
The Wild women piled the pressure on the Sheffield defence and looked as if they might score again at any moment. But the visitors held out and actually went on to score an equalising goal as soon as the 5 minute penalty had finished.
Despite Widnes having heavily outshot their opponents by 20 to 5 over the course of the second period, the score remained at a finely balanced 3-3 at the second break.
Widnes came out for the third period and edged back into the lead with a goal from Katie Fairclough on 42 minutes. A second goal for Fairclough followed 5 minutes later and then a strike from team captain Leen de Decker made the score 6-3 to Widnes with 12 minutes left to play.
Sheffield pulled back a short handed goal on the 50 minute mark but the Wild women re-established the 3-goal cushion with a second goal from de Decker just 49 seconds later. Another Shadows goal with just over 2 minutes left to play brought the score to 7-5 and meant that the closing stages were a little more nerve-wracking than they might otherwise have been but the Widnes Ladies held on to secure a well earned victory.
The Kate Luard Memorial MVP awards – sponsored by Poet-in-Residence Lucy London – were presented by match timekeeper Conner Dakin and went to Morgan Walker for Sheffield and Lucy Kirkham for Widnes.
The Wild Ladies team have two matches on the road during November – away to Leeds on 20th and Whitley Bay on 27th - and are next at home on Sunday 8th January when they take on Telford Wrekin Raiders at Planet Ice Widnes.