|Bracknell Queen Bees celebrate the Women's Elite League play off win at Widnes|
Widnes has become a popular venue in recent years for these national events, having also staged the NIHL Laidler Division play offs for the past two seasons and the British Para Ice Hockey League play offs in September 2018. Its easy to reach location and convenient interior layout make it suitable for all levels of ice hockey and the cosy spectator capacity ensures a great atmosphere which might otherwise be lost with a similar number of people in some of the larger hockey arenas
The games on the Saturday saw the semi finals of the Women’s Elite League play offs, Women’s Premier League play offs and the National League Division 1 North & South, with teams coming from as far afield as Chelmsford, Cardiff and Swindon in the south to Whitley Bay and Dumfries in the North.
In the Women’s Elite League play off, Bracknell Queen Bees – who have won the WEL title for 8 years in a row – easily saw off Guildford Lightning 10-1 in the first semi final, while the Solihull Vixens beat Kingston Diamonds from Hull 4-1in the second. In the final on Sunday – played for the Bill Britton Trophy – the Queen Bees were victorious beating the Vixens 4-1, scoring three straight goals in the third period after the score was tied 1-1 after 40 minutes.
The Women’s Premier League play off final was a lot closer with the score between league champions Nottingham Vipers and Chelmsford Cobras locked at 1-1 after the regulation 60 minutes of play. The game was settled by a golden goal after just 31 seconds of overtime with Chelmsford winning their first WPL play off title.
While not taking part in the play offs themselves, the Widnes Wild women’s team will have been particularly interested in the outcome of the Division 1 play off games as they would have direct influence on who they might be playing against season.
The Women’s Division 1 play off is unique in the current set up of British ice hockey as it is the only game that brings with it the prize of promotion to the next division up and the two top finishers in Division 1 South – Cardiff Comets and Swindon Topcats – took on the two top teams from Division 1 North – Telford Wrekin Raiders and Solway Sharks Ladies – in the two semi finals.
As it turned out, the two teams from South 1 both won their respective semi finals and Cardiff went on to beat Swindon 4-2 in the D1 national final to secure promotion to the Women’s Premier League for next season.
In the Under 16 national final, Haringey beat Kingston 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the game finished overtime level at 2-2.