Tuesday 19 April 2016

NIHL North Promotion / Relegation Play Off Game

Blackburn Arena, Saturday 16th April
Sheffield Spartans 5 – Widnes Wild 0

Period Scores: 2-0, 1-0, 2-0
Shots on Goal: Spartans 40 - Widnes 24
Penalties in Minutes: Spartans 14 – Widnes 20

Spartans Scoring:  Oliver Barron & Elliot Knell 1+1  Stuart Brittle, Shaun Wild, Ross Jordan all 1+0, Martin Finkes 0+2, Will Barron 0+2, Scott Morris 0+1

Match Officials: Steven Wardell – Referee, Lawson Glasby & David Emmerson (Linesmen)

Widnes Wild suffered heartbreak for the second season in a row as they once again failed to win promotion to the Moralee Conference via the promotion play off.

Instead of the two-legged home and away tie that had been played in previous years, this time – due to the unavailability of ice time  at iceSheffield, they met Sheffield Spartans – who had finished second from bottom in the higher division - in a one-off match at the neutral venue of Blackburn Arena.

This was the first time that a promotion playoff had ever been played as one-off game in this country and it attracted attention from across the ice hockey world with live coverage on NIHL Radio and lots of fans of other teams going to Blackburn to watch the game.

As things turned out, fortune favoured the Moralee Conference side as the Spartans took the lead as early as the 3rd minute and never really looked like losing after that. They outshot the Laidler Conference runners up by 40 to 24 and picked up what was their first win swine the middle of January.

Widnes – despite having prepared well for the tie with recent NIHL North Cup games against Moralee opposition in the shape of Blackburn Hawks, Solway Sharks and Billingham Stars – were unable to make any impression on a stubborn Spartans defence and endured their only competitive shut-out of the season.