The Widnes Wild NIHL team put in an impressive performance to beat north west rivals Blackburn Hawks 3-5 away in East Lancashire on Sunday.
Having been humbled in their previous encounter with the Hawks 0-5 on their own ice back in September and lost 1-9 to league leaders Billingham Stars in their last game, the Wild needed to regain their spark in order to give their stop–go start to the season a bit of a boost - and that is exactly what happened.
The game saw a call up for 17 year old Gabriel Lingard as back up to starting netminder Luca Tessadri but recent Scottish signings Innes Gallacher and Gregor Donaldson - who had impressed since their respective arrivals in Widnes - were unavailable for the trip.
The Wild got off to a flying start and took the lead after 5 minutes with a powerplay goal from Connor McNulty punishing an early Hawks slashing call.
4 minutes later, the score was 0-2 for the Wild after Mikey Gilbert tapped in an Andrew Hopkins pass and then a shorthanded strike from Torran Anderson with 1 minute left in the period gave Widnes a commanding 0-3 lead at the first break.
Blackburn finally scored a goal of their own 99 seconds into the second period and further narrowed the score with a second strike on 30 minutes.
They almost drew level shortly after that but were thwarted by a great save from Wild netminder Tessadri and despite further chances at both ends, the score remained 2-3 to Widnes at the second period break.
Having weathered a difficult second period, Widnes came out the stronger for the final 20 minutes and Matty Barlow put away a superb breakaway effort on 45 minutes to bring the score to 2-4.
Blackburn pulled a goal back to narrow the deficit to just 1 on 53 minutes but a fluke “own goal” from the Hawks netminder 2 minutes later, who deflected a long shot from Will Harper into his own net, restored the two goal cushion.
There was no more scoring after that and Widnes were able to celebrate their third league win of the new season.
The Wild have a tough run of three more away games in a row with trips to Solihull Barons this Saturday 28th October, Whitley Warriors on Sunday 29th October and Hull Jets on Saturday 4th November.
They are next at home when they face Hull on Sunday 5th November at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30pm face off.
The Academy Under 16 team are away to Sutton on Saturday 28th October, 4.30pm face off and the Under 18A team are away to Manchester Storm U18 the same day.
The Under 10s team host a 4 team cross ice tournament on Sunday at Planet Ice Widnes starting at 4.15pm, featuring opposition from Blackburn, Manchester and Deeside, and that is followed by the Under 14 team’s home game against Leeds U14s at 5.50pm.
Admission is free for all spectators to Wild Academy home games at Planet Ice Widnes and fans are encouraged to go along and support the stars of the future.