Monday 25 December 2023

Widnes Wild Players In GB Action

GB Under 18 team against France – photo by Great Britain Ice Hockey.

Widnes Wild’s Rhys Edwards and Kyle Carruth have become the first male Widnes players to play for a Great Britain team after they took part in two Under 18 challenge matches against France.

The two matches had been arranged to help with final GB selection for the Under 18 World Championship Division II Group A, which will be held in Sosnowiec, Poland, next year - but it was always going to be a tough task as France play two divisions higher in the WC structure.

Unfortunately, GB lost both games but Carruth grabbed the headlines when he scored a wonder goal at the end of the first period in the first of the two games.

The goal was unusual as it was what is known as a “Michigan Goal”, where the attacker skates around behind the opponents’ net, lifts the puck onto their stick and guides it into the top corner of the net from close range. It is so called after Mike Legg of the Michigan Wolverines team famously scored such a goal in an American tournament in 1996.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to spur Great Britain on to victory as France went on to win 2-7.

France had taken the lead just 80 seconds into the game and were 3-0 up by the 5th minute mark.  GB eventually pulled a goal back on 16 minutes through Romford Raiders player Brynley Capps and the Carruth goal followed with just 30 seconds left in the first period.

3 unanswered goals in the second period and then a 7th goal on 54 minutes handed France a convincing win in the first game. 

The second game the following day saw France win 1-4, with the sole GB strike coming from another Romford player, Joe Tomalin.

Great Britain Head Coach Sean Easton said afterwards: “We had a shaky start with a lot of new players to international hockey and we were also missing the players with the under-20s, had three guys out injured and some that could not get back to the UK.”

“Considering France are a Pool 1A nation, we competed well with them and gave them a good game. France threw a lot of offence at us but we held strong. There were not long periods of offence for them and we broke well and had periods of offence ourselves. However, we didn’t create enough Grade A opportunities to win a game.”

“Overall, for a team that’s just been thrown together and only had two practices under their belt, I was happy with the potential this team has shown.”

Kyle Carruth and Rhys Edwards with the
GB U18 team (Photo by David Edwards)
Rhys Edwards was the Wild’s second highest scorer in the Moralee Division last season, in what was his first season playing at that level, but has missed much of this season due to injury.

Kyle Carruth joined the Wild this season on a 2-way deal with his home club Solway Sharks.  He has previously played with GB Under 16s and also played with the Under 18s in this year’s World Championships in Serbia back in April.

Edwards and Carruth are the first Widnes Wild players to play for a men’s Great Britain team, although the club has provided a number of international players in the past. 

Nicole Jackson was the regular first choice netminder for the GB women’s team when she played for the Wild NIHL team during the 2014/15 season, while fellow GB international CJ Ashton also played a couple of games for the Wild NIHL team during the 2019/20 season.

Wild women’s player Sarah Hutchinson also played for the senior GB women’s team while she was a Widnes player and Sophie Sinclair Reeks played for the GB Women’s Under 18 team.

Matty Barlow played for the England U23 team last season and Rhys Edwards, Sophia Green and Jared Knowles also played for England junior sides last summer. 

Wild Women’s team player coach Leen de Decker is, in fact, Widnes’ most capped player with 53 World Championship matches for her native Belgium.

She has 22 goals and 13 assists to her international record, has won 1 silver medal and 4 bronzes at the World Championships and is the joint record holder for appearances for the Belgium women’s team.