Widnes Wild fell to a 6-5 loss against Blackburn Hawks 1 last night after pushing the Moralee League side into overtime in their latest Midland Cup game.
The Wild were without several key players – Novak, Gilbert, Ratcliffe and Bracegirdle missed out due to injury whilst Chris Gee was suspended following his match penalty for fighting in their previous game – but came into Sunday’s match looking to build on last week’s thrashing of Telford Tigers.
They faced a tough test against a well-coached Blackburn side from the division above, but came into Sunday’s game knowing that a win would see them trade places with the Hawks at the foot of the Midlands Cup table.
Above: The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild enter the rink in style.
Widnes started the game on top. After the Hawks received a two-minute penalty for slashing, the home side took full advantage of their powerplay. Tom Jackson finished well after great build up play seeing forward Ryan Kemp picking up the assist.
With that, Hawks were back to full strength, and James Neil slid home a sensational goal following a mazy solo run through the heart of the Wild defence.
Proceedings began to get heated. Blackburn forward Joe Greaves received 2 + 2 for fighting, as well as a 10-minute misconduct penalty after an altercation with Dan Fay.
Mike Clancy’s side failed to capitalise on their man advantage, and were then reduced to four skaters after Sam Anderson picked up a two-minute penalty for tripping. This was to prove costly as Hawks made the most of their power play, Lee Pollitt putting the away side 2-1 up going into the second period.
Widnes failed to capitalise on two early powerplays after the Hawks received a two-minute penalty for tripping, followed by another two minutes for holding the stick.
It would not take long for them to equalise however. Even with the Moralee side restored to five skaters, Shaun Dipnall fired home after great work from Widnes MVP Jakub Hajek.
Widnes were pegged back again with less than 4 minutes left in the second period, with Hawks defender Jack Murray restoring Blackburn’s lead.
Tensions flared again right at the end of the period. Both sides received a 2 + 2 penalty for fighting, with Dan Fay continuing his eventful afternoon sparking his second brawl of the night.
Above: Wild mascot, Pukka, enters the ice for the weekly chuck a duck contest just before the final period.
With both sides upping the intensity, the Wild fought hard as they chased Blackburn for another equaliser. Hawks gained a powerplay as they were restored to five skaters, but they could not make the most of the extra man.
Wild’s star man, Hajek, opened his account for the night, sliding the puck into the Blackburn goal following lovely build up play from Ryan Kemp and Shaun Dipnall.
With the home side’s joy was short lived, however. Moments after getting his side back in the game, the Czech import received a two-minute penalty for holding, which the Hawks used to their advantage.
Neil killed the away side’s penalty to give his team their fourth goal of the night, and his second.
It did not take long for Widnes to retaliate. Dipnall coolly finished after more great work from Hajek to find him in the attacking third. The Czech native was proving a huge thorn in the side of Blackburn.
Jeers ringed round Ice Planet as former Widnes player Solomon Smith received a two-minute penalty for slashing. This was Smith’s first game back against his former club, and it’s safe to say there was no love lost between the Jamaican international and the Wild fans.
Widnes couldn’t utilise their man advantage, but even with 5 skaters on the ice, Hajek still found a way to put the Wild ahead.
The tricky forward weaved left and right past the seemingly endless wave of Blackburn defenders on the left wing before firing the puck into the bottom corner.
Blackburn failed to make the most of their powerplay following Armstrong’s two-minute penalty for tripping. It went into the final 4 minutes with Widnes still in front.
With 18 seconds left on the clock, Hawks equalised. A Blackburn onslaught that seemed to last an age culminated in a goalmouth scramble. Forward James Royd bagged the equaliser to send the game into Overtime.
Widnes looked to threaten during the five-minute battle, with both Hajek and Fay causing problems for Blackburn.
The home side’s pressure was to no avail though. A Blackburn counter attack saw Fay outnumbered at the back. Hawk’s MVP, Petr Valusiak, slid home the winner to give the Lancashire club the spoil of the points.
Widnes still sit bottom of the Midland Cup after picking up a well earned point against a side one division above them. They face table toppers Bradford Bulldogs in the League next Sunday as they look to turn round their patchy early season form.
YKK Widnes Wild: Tom Jackson; Shaun Dipnall (2); Jakub Hajek (2)
Blackburn Hawks 1: James Neil (2); Lee Pollitt; Jack Murray; James Royd; Petr Valusiak