Saturday 10th December – North West Cup
YKK Widnes Wild 5 - Blackburn Hawks 1 (7 - 4 agg)
The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild picked up the first silverware of the 2022/23 season with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Blackburn Hawks in the North West Cup at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday.
Having previously lost the away leg 3-2, the Wild needed to win this return game by two clear goals and, despite a relatively small crowd due to the combination of bad weather and an England World Cup game on TV, this was a really entertaining game and impressive overall display.
Blackburn actually took the lead in the 3rd minute of the game and, despite comfortably out-shooting the visitors throughout, it took Widnes until the 10th minute to make their first breakthrough.
A goal from Dani Haid drew them back to level pegging and then a strike from player coach Richard Haggar 5 minutes later edged them into the lead.
Just 90 seconds into the second period, Joey Coulter scored the Wild’s 3rd goal of the night and, from then on, the result never really looked in any doubt.
Blackburn put in a good showing and had their chances but were unable to make the most of them and the Widnes superiority paid off with a powerplay goal for Andrew Hopkins on 39 minutes, to bring the score to 4-1.
The Wild changed their netminder for the third period with 16 year old Callum Preston – son of former Widnes player Chris Preston – taking over from Evan Coles between the pipes. Preston has only been playing Under 18 hockey for Bradford this season and he did very well in his first ever stint at Moralee Division level, keeping out all 6 shots that came his way.
Widnes eased off in the latter stages, knowing that another game against the Hawks was coming up the night after but they finished on a flourish with a goal from Jack Murray on 57 minutes.
The ensuing 5-1 win means that Widnes win the North West Challenge Cup 7-4 on aggregate – and Callum Preston received the MVP award for his third period “shut out”.