Monday 29 January 2024

Wild Academy Round Up - 27/28 January


The Widnes Wild Academy junior teams had a mostly positive weekend with wins for the Under 14s against Sutton and Under 18Bs away at Solihull and a narrow defeat for the Under 18As away to Bradford.    

The Wild Academy U18B team came away from Solihull on Saturday with a 2-5 victory courtesy of goals by Jared Knowles (2), Harry Kay, Alex Reid and Charlie Scott. Netminder Harry Bird turned away 40 of the 42 shots that he faced.

The Wild Academy Under 14 team recorded an emphatic 13-1 victory over Sutton Under 14s at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.

The final score was actually 16-1 to Widnes but due to a well meaning - but ultimately unfair - mercy/slaughter rule introduced by the EIHA, heavily one-sided scorelines are discouraged and counting stops once the deficit gets to a certain level.

The idea behind this rule is to avoid young players getting too discouraged when they are at this early stage of their development but it also has the negative effect of not recognising any of the players’ achievements that happen after the cut-off point in the game – even if the losing team scores any more goals themselves.

Caleb Eddleston led the scoring for Widnes with 4 goals and 3 assists with Evan Walker scoring 3+3 and Ollie Cliffe 4+1. Oliver Kitchen chipped in with 2-2, Ben Roberts 2+1 and Daniel Teinert 1+1 but not all of these goals get credited to the players’ records as 3 of the goals came after the mercy cut off.

The Wild Under 18 A team lost 9-5 away to Bradford on Sunday.  The Widnes youngsters actually matched their hosts for much of the game and narrowly outshot them by 69 to 62 over the 60 minutes.  The Widnes goals were scored by Gregor Donaldson (2), Aidan Lamb, Mack Harris and Cian Shorrock.

The Wild Academy Under 10 team hosted a 4 team “cross-ice” tournament at Widnes on Sunday where they took on Deeside, Manchester and Blackburn.  Cross ice games are played purely for fun and no match scores or player stats are recorded.

This weekend sees the Wild Academy Under 14 team away to Sutton on Saturday - 4.45pm face off - and the Under 18B team at home to Whitley - also on Saturday - at Planet Ice Widnes, 6pm start.

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.


Wild Academy’s Caleb With England U12s

Caleb Eddleston on England duty in Slovakia - Photo by England PO12 Staff

Widnes Wild Academy player Caleb Eddleston has been on England duty with an Under 12 select team, on a week’s trip to Slovakia. 

Caleb was put forward for the PO12 (Power Of 12) England National Team Program (ENTP) by the Widnes Wild Academy head coach Mike Gilbert after a very successful 2022/23 season with the Under 12 and Under 14 teams where he put up a combined 85 points for the Academy and finished 5th in the overall points standings for U14’s Division 2 at the age of 10/11. 

He was successful with the PO12 AAA team after a 4-stage trial and flew out with the squad, taking part in multiple games and training sessions whilst in Trencin, Slovakia. 

Staying in the Marian Gaborik Hotel which has its own fitness centre and ice rink attached gave the young squad their first taste of a professional set-up and the physical demands needed to represent their country at the highest level possible for U12s. 

The England squad played local teams and won all of their games against Slovakian competition. Caleb provided a number of points (goals and assists) over the course of the week and scored a hat trick in one of the games. The opposition was provided by Dukla Trencin 12 & 13, HK 95 Panthers Povazska Bystrica, and K&B Stars who are a select team based in Slovakia. 

An optional skate with coach Peter Bohunicky from the NHL Florida Panthers to focus on skating, was also taken up by many of the players who attended the PO12 showing their commitment to their passion for the game. 

When asked about his week away with the PO12, Caleb commented: “It was fun and I enjoyed it. The opposition teams were strong, but we passed the puck around well and scored on our opportunities. I enjoyed every second of the trip and want to do more”

Caleb next flies out to Riga, Latvia in April to represent the Elite British Selects (2012 AAA) in the 2024 Riga Hockey Cup.

(Text by Gary Eddleston)

Wild Women At Home To League Leaders

The Wild women played in the first ever WNIHL game to be staged at Edinburgh back in October - photo by Richard Gray

The DMUK Widnes Wild women’s team face a tough challenge this Sunday 4th February when they take on the Caledonia Steel Queens at Planet Ice Widnes, 4.25pm face off.

The Edinburgh based Steel Queens, who are in their first season of league competition, currently lead the WNIHL Div2 North league table with a 100% record of 5 wins from their 5 games to date – the most recent being a highly impressive 2-4 win away to regular title challengers Telford. 

The Wild women lost 10-1 to the Steel Queens in the first meeting between the two teams – the first WNIHL match ever to be played at the Murrayfield Ice Rink - back in October at the, admittedly, rather unsociable face off time of 10.15pm on a Saturday night.

However, they are unbeaten in all 3 of their home games so far this season – with a mean defensive record of having conceded just 2 goals in a total 180 minutes playing time – and it is hoped that Sunday will provide a close–fought and entertaining game. 


Widnes Wild NIHL Cup News

Widnes Wild won the North West Challenge Cup last season – photo by Geoff White

The Widnes Wild NIHL team were without a game last weekend after failing to qualify for the semi finals of the Moralee Cup - the first time in 3 years. 

The Wild had actually won the trophy in 2022 and then lost out in a 2–legged semi final to Solway Sharks last season but their lowly position of 7th in the standings after the qualifying games this season means that they missed out this time around.

Following difficulties in previous seasons with ice time availability and fixture backlogs affecting the scheduling of the semi final matches between the qualifying teams, the league organisers – rather sensibly – left a free weekend in the schedules across the country this week with no games arranged for any team to have to work around.

This year’s Moralee Cup semi finals saw Billingham beat Hull and Blackburn beat Solihull to set up a 2-legged final between the Stars and the Hawks.

But there is another cup competition where Widnes remain very much in the running, and that is the triangular M56 Cup that is being played between themselves, Deeside Dragons and Blackburn.

The M56 Cup was supposed to have been played last season as well but the Dragons had scheduling issues and only one game was ever played.  Instead, the competition was renamed the “North West Challenge Cup” and was played over two legs between Widnes and Blackburn with the Wild winning 7-4 on aggregate.

Widnes have played two games so far in this season’s M56 cup – beating Deeside 10-8 and losing 5-7 to Blackburn - and they still have the return games to play in the “round robin” group.

There is a bit of a question mark over the Blackburn v Deeside cup ties at present to complete the set of fixtures after the Dragons visit to East Lancashire on 13th January was postponed in the aftermath of an unsavoury incident that occurred in the league game between the two teams the previous weekend.

That matter is the subject of an investigation by the police and the English Ice Hockey Association and it is unclear as to whether the outstanding game will be played.  If it is not rescheduled, the EIHA will have to make a decision as to who is at fault and how to complete the Cup competition table.

They have the option to award the win and 2 points to the non-offending team, or to record the match as a draw with 1 point each or 0 points each, depending on the findings of the investigation.   

Obviously this will have a huge bearing on the destination of the trophy so, in the meantime, the Wild have the opportunity to place themselves in the best possible position by gaining positive results in their own two remaining cup away games away at Deeside this Saturday 3rd February, 5.15pm face off, and away to Blackburn on 17th February.

Aside from the first cup encounter, which was won by the Wild, Widnes and Deeside have each won one of the league meetings this season so far – with both winning at the other’s home rink – so Saturday’s game is too close to call and could go either way. 

The Wild have another tough away trip when they make the long journey to the North East to face league leaders Billingham Stars on Sunday.  They are next at home on Sunday 11th February when they take on Sheffield Scimitars at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30pm face off.


Sunday 28 January 2024

Match Report: Connah’s Quay Cobras 9 – Solihull Vikings 7 (Challenge Match)

Slavomir Sykora (#77) was the Cobras' MVP in the 9-7 win over Solihull (Photo by Paul Breeze)

The Connah’s Quay Cobras notched up their 7th win in a row with a hard fought and highly entertaining 9-7 win over the Solihull Vikings at Deeside Leisure Centre on Saturday.

The Cobras opened the scoring with a goal from Sam Plant in the 6th minute and further strikes from team captain Evan McKinney, player coach Emma Dutton, Ken Valyear and Plant, again, saw them leading 5-0 with just 12 minutes on the clock.

Solihull scored their first goal of the game on 16 minutes and the score remained 5-1 at the first period break.

The second period was a more cagey affair and it took until 29 minutes for the next breakthrough, which fell to Stewart Cutting who edged the Cobras further ahead with a powerplay goal punishing a Solihull slashing call.  

Solihull pulled a goal back on 36 minutes but the 5-goal advantage was restored just 16 seconds later with a goal from Slavomir Sykora.  The Vikings hit back again with another goal 59 seconds after that to level the period at 2-2 and at 7-3 at the second interval, the game no longer seemed quite as one-sided as it had at the first.

Solihull noticeably upped their game in the third period and three unanswered strikes pulled them right back into contention with just one goal between the two teams.  

The Cobras called a timeout to interrupt the momentum of the game and rethink strategy and this must have worked as the Vikings’ rampage was stanched and Connah’s Quay scored a nerve settling goal – Sykora’s second of the game – on 52 minutes.

Solihull were not done yet, however, and narrowed the lead once again on 54 minutes but a strike from Martin Stolicny restored the daylight between the two teams and the Cobras were able to hold off some late pressure to secure the 9-7 victory.

After the match, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards were presented to Slavomir Sykora for Connah’s Quay and Michael Rodger for Solihull.

The Connah’s Quay Cobras are next in action Sunday 25th February when they take on the Telford Spartans in a challenge match at Deeside Leisure Centre, 8.30pm face off.



 


Monday 22 January 2024

Kyle Carruth Off To World Championships

Widnes Wild's GB U18 International Kyle Carruth (Photo by David Tattum / DJT Ice Hockey Photos) 

Widnes Wild NIHL player Kyle Carruth has been selected for the Great Britain Under 18 squad to play in the 2024 World Championships in Sosnowiec, Poland, from 17th to 23rd April.

The GB team will compete in Division II Group A of the World Championships and will take on Croatia, Serbia, Romania, the Netherlands and the host nation.

17 year old Carruth signed for the Wild this season on a 2 way arrangement with his home club Solway Sharks.  He has played 15 Moralee Division games for Widnes this season, scoring 7 goals and 6 assists and has also iced 21 times for the Sharks in the NIHL National Division.

Kyle played in 2 GB Under 18 challenge games against France before Christmas and made the headlines when he scored an unusual “Michigan goal”, one of only 3 GB goals that were scored over the two games against the higher ranked visitors.

Carruth also played for the Under 18 national side in the Under 18 World Championships in Serbia in April 2023. He played in all 5 games, scoring 2 assists and helping GB to a bronze medal finish – just outside the promotion places.


Wild Women Hull Trip Off

The DMUK Widnes Wild women’s team’s away game with the Kingston Diamonds that was scheduled for this Saturday 27th January has been postponed due to an ice availability issue at Hull Arena.

The Hull Jets NIHL team have qualified for the semi-finals of the Moralee Cup and need to stage their home leg on that date, so the women’s game will have to be rescheduled.

This means that the Wild women’s next game will be at home the following Sunday 4th February when they take on league leaders Caledonia Steel Queens at Planet Ice Widnes, 4.25pm face off.


Widnes Wild Academy Round Up


The Wild Academy teams enjoyed a mixed weekend with the Under 14 team drawing 4-4 at home to Solihull U14s on Saturday at Planet Ice Widnes and the Under 18A team losing 10-2 away to Sheffield on Sunday.

This weekend sees the Academy Under 14 team at home to Sutton U14s on Sunday 28th January at Planet Ice Widnes, 6.20pm face off.

The Under 18B team are away to Solihull on Saturday, 6.05pm face off and the Under 18A team are away to Bradford on Sunday, 5pm start.

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.


Match Report: Widnes Wild 3 - Hull Jets 4 (Moralee Division)


Sunday 21st January – Moralee Division: Widnes Wild 3 – Hull 4

The Widnes Wild NIHL team had a disappointing weekend, losing both of their home games – 5-7 to Blackburn Hawks in the M56 Cup on Saturday and 3-4 to Hull Jets in the league on Sunday at Planet Ice Widnes.

In contrast to the night before, the Moralee Division game against Hull on Sunday started well for the Wild.

They took the lead on 13 minutes with a powerplay goal from Matty Barlow and then doubled the advantage just 78 seconds later with a strike from player coach Joey Coulter.  Hull pulled a goal back with 2 minutes left in the first period and the score remained 2-1 at the first break.

The game was turned on its head during a brief spell in the second period and two unanswered goals for the visiting Jets within 60 seconds of each other – from former Widnes players Adam Jasecko and Kieran Beach – handed Hull a 2-3 lead with one period left to play.

The Wild levelled the score 90 seconds into the third period with a goal from Bez Hughes but Hull edged back into the lead on 48 minutes with a goal from another former Widnes player – Ryan Kemp - and held on to secure a narrow 3-4 victory.

This was the Wild’s 4th defeat out of 4 meetings with the Jets this season and leaves them down in 7th place in the Moralee Division table with 17 points from their 25 league games to date. 

Widnes are next in action on Saturday 3rd February when they are due to travel to Deeside to take on the Dragons in the M56 Cup, 5.15pm face off, and then make the long trip to the North East to face league leaders Billingham Stars the day after. 

The Widnes womens’ team are at home to Caledonia Steel Queens from Edinburgh on Sunday 4th for anybody who isn’t travelling to the away game in Billingham, 4.25pm face off.

The Wild NIHL team are next at home on Sunday 11th February when they take on Sheffield Scimitars at Planet Ice Widnes, 5.30pm face off. 


Match Report: Widnes Wild 5 - Blackburn Hawks 7 (M56 Cup)

Rhys Edwards was Wild MVP for his hat trick against Blackburn – photo by Steve Cunningham / Shots by Ste

Saturday 20th January – M56 Cup: Widnes Wild 5 – Blackburn Hawks 7

The Widnes Wild NIHL team had a disappointing weekend, losing both of their home games – 5-7 to Blackburn Hawks in the M56 Cup on Saturday and 3-4 to Hull Jets in the league on Sunday at Planet Ice Widnes.

The Cup game on Saturday started badly for the Wild and they found themselves 0-2 down after 12 minutes.  They finally opened their own account on 16 minutes when player coach Joey Coulter picked up a breakaway pass from Rhys Edwards and fired the puck past the Hawks netminder.

A first Widnes goal for Owen Rae on 19 minutes drew the Wild level and the score remained 2-2 at the first period break. 

The second period played out in similar vein with Blackburn going ahead once again with a goal on 27 minutes and Rhys Edwards firing in a short handed strike to equalise 4 minutes later.  The game remained finely balanced at 3-3 after two periods with plenty to play for in the last 20 minutes.

Blackburn edged ahead again just 90 seconds into the third period but were again pegged back with another Edwards equaliser.  A powerplay goal on 48 minutes nosed them ahead once more and another reply from Edwards  – for his hat-trick – levelled the score again at 5-5 with 10 minutes left to play. 

Former Wild player Adam Barnes scored his own hat trick goal on 54 minutes to put Blackburn back in front again and, shortly afterwards, Widnes were awarded a penalty shot for a trip on Bailey Thomson. Unfortunately, the resulting shot was saved by the Hawks netminder and Widnes went into the last 5 minutes still a goal down.

Widnes called a time out with 90 seconds left and withdrew netminder Luca Tessadri for the last minute in favour of an extra attacker. Unfortunately, the gamble did not pay off and Blackburn made sure of the win with an empty net goal with 14 seconds left on the clock.

The MVP awards went to hat-trick hero Rhys Edwards for Widnes and former Wild player Calum Ruddick, who was making his first return to Widnes since his controversial “text-gate” dismissal earlier in the season.


Friday 19 January 2024

Cobras To Face Solihull Vikings


The Connah’s Quay Cobras team are back in action this Saturday 27th January when they take on the Solihull Vikings in a challenge match at Deeside Leisure Centre, 4.30pm face off.

The Cobras are currently on a roll, having won their last 6 games – including an impressive 3-12 victory over Queensferry rink mates Flintshire Phantoms in the opening game of their Summer Classic Cup qualifying group three weeks ago.

Saturday’s friendly game against Solihull will be good preparation for the rest of the tournament, which will see them take on Trafford Thunder, Blackburn Falcons, Newcastle Predators, Riverside Raiders and a return game against the Phantoms in a “round robin” group campaign that will stretch into the summer months.

The Cobras’ line-up features an exciting mix of former Deeside juniors, traditional local rec players and a number of former league players with NIHL experience, including Chris Keating, Sam Krempasky, Kenny Williams & Sam Plant (all Deeside Dragons), Kieran Clarkson (Bradford and Altrincham) and Stewart Cutting (Slough Jets) and the team are enjoying an ever-growing following as they enter their second year as a club.

The game against Solihull on Saturday faces off at 4.30pm and admission is free for all spectators.


Last Call For Blackburn Falcons / Seagulls / Phoenix / Raptors / Eagles / Hawks2 Contributions

At 6 years and counting, this has taken longer to finish than any of the individual teams being covered actually existed for – but we are pleased to say that the Blackburn second string book is now, finally, almost complete.

It includes complete playing records and player stats for the Lancashire Raptors 2007-2012, Blackburn Eagles 2012–2017 and Blackburn Hawks 2 2017-2020 and there is a bit about the Blackburn Falcons 1991-93,  Blackburn Seagulls 1993-1997 and Blackburn Phoenix 1997-1998 as well, although there isn’t very much information available about them.

If anybody has any photos, match programmes, results lists or player stats for the Falcons, Seagulls or Phoenix, please get in touch as we would like to include as much as we can about them.

Also, if anybody has any personal stories that they would like to add for any of the teams included, that would be great as well.  (EMAIL HERE)

I’ll give it a couple more weeks while I am tidying everything up and will then go with what I have available at that time. The finished book will probably be available March/April time – so watch this space! 


Monday 15 January 2024

Widnes Wild Academy Round Up


There were two draws for the Wild Academy teams at the weekend with the Under 14 team drawing 4-4 at home to Sheffield U14s on Saturday at Planet Ice Widnes and the Under 16s drawing 1-1 away in Telford on Sunday.

The Wild Under 10 team were away in Blackburn on Sunday for a 4 team “cross ice” tournament involving Manchester and Deeside as well as the host side.

This weekend sees the Academy Under 14 team at home to Solihull U14s on Saturday 20th January at Planet Ice Widnes, 4.20pm face off, and the Under 18A team away to Sheffield on Sunday.

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.

*****

Former Widnes Academy U18s captain and senior Wild NIHL player Sam Anderson took up refereeing after he gave up playing in 2020 and has since progressed up the ranks of officiating at recreational, juniors, women’s, sledge and NIHL matches. 

He has now refereed his first game at Elite League level when he oversaw Coventry Blaze’s 5-4 overtime win over Fife Flyers on Sunday. Aged just 20, he is believed to be the youngest referee in the professional top tier league.


Match Report: Deeside Dragons 2- Widnes Wild 5 (Moralee Division)

Rhys Edwards scored two goals away at Deeside - photo by Ste Cunningham / Shots By Ste

Sunday 14th January – Moralee Division: Deeside Dragons 2 - Widnes Wild 5

The Widnes Wild NIHL team put in two superb performances to register their first 4 point weekend of the season with a 5-3 home win against Solihull Barons on Saturday and a 2-5 away win over Deeside Dragons on Sunday. 

Sunday’s opponents – fierce local rivals Deeside - were third in the Moralee Division table before the weekend’s games and riding on the crest of a 3 –game winning streak, having also won the only league meeting of the season so far against Widnes back in December.

Matches between the Wild and the Dragons are always passionately fought feisty affairs due to the close proximity of the two venues and a regular interchange of players between the teams over the years and this was no exception with a string of minor penalties affecting both sides throughout.

Widnes took the lead on 3 minutes when Matty Barlow fired in a powerplay goal punishing an early Deeside slashing penalty but the Dragons fought back to equalise 4 minutes later. 

The Wild were in front again on 11 minutes when a blueline shot from Rhys Edwards cannoned down off the cross bar and dropped across the goal-line and despite further chances for both teams, the score remained 1-2 at the first period break.

A goal from Kyle Carruth edged Widnes further ahead on 23 minutes but Deeside pulled a goal back some 12 minutes later on a powerplay while that same player was sitting out an interference call.  This left the score standing at an “anybody’s game” 2-3 with one period left to play.

The third period was very tense and close-fought as both teams threw everything they had into trying to secure the result.

It took until the 50th minute for the next breakthrough and that fell to Rhys Edwards who slotted away a shorthanded goal to give the Wild a 2-4 lead with 10 minutes left to play. 

Deeside withdrew their netminder in favour of an extra attacker for the last minute in the hope of forcing a late goal but Mikey Gilbert made sure of the win for Widnes with an empty net goal struck from his own defensive zone with just 20 seconds left on the clock.

This was the first time that Wild have picked up 4 points in a single weekend all season and, indeed,  only the second time that they have won two games in a row. 

They will be hoping to extend this run with two home games at the weekend at Planet Ice Widnes – against Blackburn Hawks in the M56 Cup on Saturday 20th January, face off 7pm – and Hull Jets in the league on Sunday, 5.30pm start.


Match Report: Widnes Wild 5 - Solihull Barons 3 (Moralee Division)

Damarni James scored his first goal for the Wild and was MVP against Solihull – photo by Ste Cunningham / Shots By Ste

Saturday 13th January – Moralee Division: Widnes Wild 5- Solihull Barons 3

The Widnes Wild NIHL team put in two superb performances to register their first 4 point weekend of the season with a 5-3 home win against Solihull Barons on Saturday and a 2-5 away win over Deeside Dragons on Sunday. 

The Barons arrived on Saturday night occupying the lofty position of second in the Moralee Division table – compared to the Wild’s seventh – and having won the 3 previous meetings between the two teams this season.  The last encounter – away in the West Midlands last weekend – however, did go all the way to overtime, so the Wild certainly felt they were in with a chance in their first game of 2024.

The first period was very tense and the Barons outshot the Wild by 19 to 6 in the first 20 minutes. However, Harrison Walker was looking very solid in the Widnes goal and the home defence combined well to keep the Solihull attack at bay.

The first goal came in the 11th minute and fell to Damarni James, scoring his first goal for Widnes. The Barons eventually equalised in the 18th minute and the score remained 1-1 at the first period break.

The second period was just as close and it took until the 32nd minute for the next breakthrough.  Here again, it fell to the Wild as Mikey Gilbert flicked the puck up past the Barons netminder to give Widnes a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, the lead did not last and Solihull equalised just 2 minutes later. 

A second goal of the night from James fired the Wild back in front on 36 minutes and Joey Coulter edged them further ahead two minutes later when he tapped in a rebound from a Kyle Carruth shot. This meant that the Wild led 4-2 at the second break with a hint of daylight between the two teams for the first time in the match.

In a game that was on the whole, otherwise devoid of much serious penalty box action, Kyle Carruth picked up a 5 minute penalty for elbows early in the third period and the Wild had to defend an extended 5 on 4 powerplay.  They successfully weathered this storm but then succumbed to a shorthanded goal from the Barons on 51 minutes to set up a nervy finale to the game.

There were chances for both sides as the clock ticked down and the visitors pushed forward trying to force a late equaliser. Then, with just over 2 minutes left to play, Wild player coach Coulter knocked in a fumbled puck from the Solihull netminder to put the game out of the reach of the Barons and secure a 5-3 victory.


Wednesday 10 January 2024

Ice Hockey Review Website Celebrates 10th Anniversary


Today – 10th January 2024 - is the 10th Anniversary of the launch of the Ice Hockey Review grass roots ice hockey website.

We had, in fact, already been posting ice hockey news since 2011, covering the Fylde Flyers’ debut ENL season on our “Paul & Lucy’s Best Kept Secrets” website and later branched out to cover general ENL weekend round ups as well.

However, it was pointed out by some ice hockey fans that, as there was so much other interesting material also being constantly put up on the Best Kept Secrets website – theatre reviews, cafĂ© news, local music, arts and culture, other sports etc - it was difficult to separate out the ice hockey stories and, thus, the idea for a dedicated ice hockey news website came about.


On that first day, just to have something to start off with, I posted adverts for the various ice hockey books and souvenir programmes that I had already published (click here to view story) and then, on 14th January, posted the first weekend round up of the action in NIHL North Divisions 1 and 2 (click here).  This was back in the days before the NIHL got very much media coverage, so was quite innovative for its time.

At the time of writing, the website has now attracted over 396.000 hits – working out at around 39.600 a year, 3.300 a month and an average of 110 per day over the 10 years – which is absolutely fantastic and I would like to thank everybody for their long suffering support.  Long may it continue!



A Few Facts and Figures

810 news items have been posted on www.icehockeyreview.co.uk in the 10 years from 10th January 2014 to 10th January 2024 

The most read individual story was posted on 30th June 2018 and concerned the legendary recruitment drive for the Widnes Wild women’s team which got 3.500 views, and helped build the team that went on to win the league title in 2019/20 (click here to see story).

According to the stats, peak general reading for the website - for some reason or other, possibly a lot of people were bored during a lockdown somewhere - was in April 2021 with 13.880 page views.




 




 


Monday 8 January 2024

Widnes Wild Academy Weekend Round Up


The Wild Academy junior teams enjoyed a good start to the new year, winning 2 of the 3 games played at the weekend.

The Under 16 team beat Sheffield U16s 3-1 at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday and the Under 18B team beat the Sheffield U18s 6-2 straight afterwards.

The Wild Academy Under 12 team narrowly lost 3-2 away to Manchester Storm U12s. 

This weekend sees the Academy Under 14 team at home to Sheffield on Saturday 13th January at Planet Ice Widnes, 4.20pm face off. 

The Wild Under 10 team are away in Blackburn on Sunday for a 4 team “cross ice” tournament involving Manchester and Deeside as well as the host side, with the action starting at 5pm.

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.


Match Report: DMUK Widnes Wild Women 5 - Whitley Bay Beacons 0 (WNIHL D2N)

Phoebe Patient receives the Wild Women MVP award from Lynda Bird (Photo by Paul Breeze)

Sunday 7th January – WNIHL Div 2N: DMUK Widnes Wild Women 5 – Whitley Bay Beacons 0

The DMUK Widnes Wild Women got 2024 off to the best possible start with a 5-0 win over the Whitley Bay Beacons at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday. 

It took until the 16th minute for the first goal and this fell to the Wild’s Jemma Brown. This was quickly followed by strikes from Victoria Connelly, Preston Gennoe and Ellen Tyrer and Widnes were able to take a 4-0 lead into the first break.

The goal rush did not extend into the second period and this was much closer in terms of puck possession and shots on goal. Here again it took over 15 minutes for the next breakthrough and the chance, when it came, fell to Laura Marcroft to fire away the puck.

Widnes led 5-0 at the second break and, with the third period playing out goal-less, that turned out to be the final score.

Wild netminder Stephanie Drinkwater put in a superb performance, turning away all 28 shots that she faced. Ellie Green replaced her for the final 7½ minutes to complete the shut out.  

The Wild Women’s Most Valuable Player awards for this season have been sponsored by Lucy London - Poet In Residence for the 5th year in a row and consist of goodie bags containing a limited edition MVP teddy bear and a selection of Body Shop products provided by Running Mum Beauty. The awards were presented by match volunteer Lynda Bird and went to Claire Wilson for Whitley and Phoebe Patient for Widnes.

The Wild women are next in action away to Kingston Diamonds in Hull on Saturday 27th January and are next at home on Sunday 4th February when they take on the Caledonia Steel Queens from Edinburgh at Planet Ice Widnes, 4.25pm face off. 


Match Report: Solihull Barons 6 - Widnes Wild 5 OTL (Moralee Division)

Will Harper scored in both Wild NIHL games at the weekend and was named MVP away at Solihull (Photo by Keith & Jenny Davies)

Sunday 7th January 2024 – Moralee Division: Solihull Barons 6  – Widnes Wild 5 (OTL) 

The Widnes Wild NIHL team made a cautiously positive start to the new year with two battling performances on the road ending in a 6-3 defeat away at Hull Jets on Saturday and a narrow 6-5 overtime loss to Solihull Barons on Sunday.

The game on Sunday in the West Midlands was a closely fought affair and was pretty much anybody’s game all the way through.

After a tense opening phase, Solihull eventually took the lead on 10 minutes and then scored a second goal with 30 seconds left on the clock to lead 2-0 at the first period break.

Will Harper opened the Wild account for the night with a goal on 22 minutes but Solihull restored the 2-goal lead 3 minutes later with a delayed penalty goal.

Two minutes after that, Mikey Gilbert halved the deficit again but then a string of penalties for both sides broke up the Wild’s gathering momentum.  

A Barons powerplay goal on 35 minutes edged them further ahead, only to be pegged back by a Rhys Edwards strike on 37 minutes, but a further Solihull goal with 26 seconds left in the period saw them leading 5-3 at the second break. 

The third period was real barnstorming stuff and Widnes narrowed the gap once again with a goal from Matty Barlow on 47 minutes and then finally managed to draw level with a Rhys Edwards strike just 46 seconds later.

The remaining 12 minutes saw chances at both ends but the score remained 5-5 at the end of regulation time and a period of 3-on-3 sudden death over time was needed to find a winner.

Solihull scored the winning goal 2 minutes into the OT period and were able to celebrate their third win over the Wild this season.

The Barons receive two points for the win while Widnes get a single point for the Over Time Loss, having drawn at the end of regulation time.  

The Wild are at home to the Barons this Saturday 13th January at Planet Ice Widnes, 7pm face off, and then travel to face local rivals Deeside Dragons away in Queensferry on Sunday, 5.15pm face off.

Match Report: Hull Jets 6 - Widnes Wild 3 (Moralee Division)

The Wild defend away at Hull (Photo by Vince Cowell)

Saturday 6th January 2024 – Moralee Division: Hull Jets 6 – Widnes Wild 3

The Widnes Wild NIHL team made a cautiously positive start to the new year with two battling performances on the road ending in a 6-3 defeat away at Hull Jets on Saturday and a narrow 6-5 overtime loss to Solihull Barons on Sunday.

The game at Hull started badly for the Wild as they conceded the opening goal after just 11 seconds, however a strike from Will Harper just two minutes later drew Widnes level and the score remained 1-1 at the first period break.

The teams were just as closely matched in the second period with Hull scoring again on 23 minutes and Joey Coulter equalised two minutes after that. Then a further Hull goal on 36 minutes was once again countered with a Mikey Gilbert goal 90 seconds later to leave the score standing at 3-3 after two periods. 

As the game went on tensions began to boil over and the third period was riddled with penalties for both sides. Widnes suffered the worst from this phase of disruption and found themselves 5-3 down with 10 minutes left to play.

The Wild withdrew netminder Luca Tessadri for the last minute in favour of an extra attacker to try and salvage something from the game but the move back fired and Hull scored an Empty Net Goal with 14 seconds left on the clock.


Sunday 7 January 2024

Match Report: Flintshire Phantoms 3 - Connah's Quay Cobras 12 (Summer Classic Cup)

Connah's Quay Cobra celebrate their 3-12 Summer Classic Cup win over Flintshire Phantoms 

Saturday 6th January 2024 – Summer Classic Cup: Flintshire Phantoms 3 – Connah’s Quay Cobras 12

The Connah’s Quay Cobras got the new year off to a good start with a comprehensive 3-12 win over the Flintshire Phantoms in the opening game of the Summer Classic Cup at Deeside Leisure Centre on Saturday.

This was the first ever meeting between the two Deeside-based teams and, with the Phantoms being the longer established team - and semi-finalists in the cup last season - it was expected to be a tough test for the Cobras, who were making their debut in the competition.  

The game started well for the Cobras and they took the lead after just 93 seconds with a goal after  Louie Bailey finished off a blue zone breakaway from Emma Dutton.

Kieran Clarkson made it 0-2 two minutes later before the Phantoms opened their own account with a goal in the 5th minute. Flintshire then equalised on 14 minutes but a last-gasp goal from Stewart Cutting with just 2 seconds left on the clock handed the Cobras a 2-3 lead at the first period break.

A goal from Martin Rybka on 24 minutes edged the Cobras further ahead and unanswered goals from Cutting and Rybka again put some daylight between the two teams 

A flurry of activity and the start of the third period saw three goals scored within 50 seconds of each other as Kieran Clarkson fired the Cobras into a 2-7 lead, the Phantoms pulled a goal back and then  Connah’s Quay captain Evan McKinney restored the advantage.

The latter stages saw the Cobras pull away and 4 more unanswered goals – from Rybka for his hat-trick, Louis Ellwood, Cutting (another hat-trick) and then Rybka again – saw them coast to a comfortable victory.

The Most Valuable Players (MVPs) for the two teams were Brian Chalmers for Flintshire and Martin Rybka for Connah’s Quay.  Special credit goes to Alex Fisher and Jason James who stepped in to referee the match after the appointed officials didn’t arrive.

The win sees the Cobras top the qualifying group at this early stage of the competition but there is still a long way to go and, as the word “summer” in the title suggests, most of the games will be played later in the year.  

As well as the two qualifying games against Flintshire, the Cobras will also play home and away against Trafford Thunder, Blackburn Falcons, Newcastle Predators and last year’s Development Section treble winners Riverside Raiders in a 6-team “round robin” group that will stretch into the summer months.

The top two finishers in the group will qualify for the play offs in Sheffield in August, where they will meet the top teams from the other groups.

The Cobras are next in action on Saturday 27th January when they take on the Solihull Vikings in a challenge match at Deeside Leisure Centre, 4.30pm face off.  Admission is free for all spectators.