Sunday 19 November 2023

Widnes Wild v Sheffield Scimitars NIHL Match Postponed Following Health Scare

Match action from a Wild v Sheffield home game last season (Photo by Geoff White)

The Widnes Wild NIHL team had their home match against Sheffield Scimitars postponed on Sunday after the Planet Ice rink was closed due to a carbon monoxide issue.

The situation arose after the home game against Solihull Barons the previous Saturday when a number of players and spectators reported feeling unwell. Planet Ice subsequently made the following statement:

“On Sunday morning, monitoring equipment identified levels of carbon monoxide in parts of the building and a decision was made to evacuate and close the premises. The emergency gas services were then contacted and notified.”

“This is the first time we have ever experienced such an incident and are truly sorry that it resulted in people feeling unwell. We extend our best wishes to them all and hope they are now feeling much better.”

“Extensive investigations, involving our own engineers and external authorities have been conducted and eventually the cause of the problem was found to be within the ice resurfacing machine, equipment that is used in the breaks between periods of play in a hockey game to treat the ice pad.”

“This machine is currently out of service. The replacement will be tested in a mock hockey game scenario and the premises examined by an air quality expert. If, as we expect, carbon monoxide levels are returned to safe levels and those authorities involved are satisfied, then we will announce a re-opening date.”

The temporary closure of the rink meant that none of the Widnes-based ice hockey teams - Wild NIHL, Wild Women, Academy Juniors, various recreational teams nor the Mayhem sledge team – were able to train during the week.  Training sessions for figure skaters, ice dancers and public sessions were also affected. 

The postponement comes at an unfortunate time for the Wild as they had had won their previous game – away to Sheffield Scimitars 3-4, the day after the Solihull game - and were looking to build on this result to help kick start their “Jekyll & Hyde” start to the Moralee Division season.

They have been struggling with consistency in recent weeks, due to a combination of long term injuries to a number of key players and chequered availability of others because of 2-way arrangements with other clubs, and previously lost 5 games in a row – equalling the team’s worst ever runs of results from November / December 2013 and October / November 2019. 

The Wild are away this Sunday 26th November when they travel to the North East to take on league leaders Billingham Stars, 5.30pm face off.

They are then scheduled to be at home on both Saturday and Sunday 2nd and 3rd December when they take on local rivals Deeside Dragons in back to back fixtures.  The game on the Saturday evening (7pm face off) is the Wild’s first match in the triangular M56 Cup series, which also features the Blackburn  Hawks, while the game on the Sunday is a league fixture, facing off at 5.30pm.  

UPDATE - The Planet Ice rink at Widnes was able to fully reopen on Tuesday 21st November after the issue had been resolved.

The company said: "Planet Ice are sorry that this incident occurred but are pleased that the authorities found that the actions we have taken since identifying the cause of the problem means the rink is safe to re-open.

"Planet Ice are also taking this opportunity to make a number of other improvements to the venue which will mean that all our visitors can enjoy a safer and more welcoming environment at the rink into the future."