Tuesday 4 June 2024

Match Report: "Team Wild” 9 – “Team Kenergy” 13 (Ken Armstrong Testimonial Match)

Netminder Jake Lowndes with Ken Armstrong at the Testimonial Match (Photo by Phil Lowndes)

2nd June 2024 – Ken Armstrong Testimonial Match: "Team Wild” 9 – “Team Kenergy” 13

Widnes Wild players and fans bade a fond farewell to the club’s longest serving player, Ken Armstrong at a special Testimonial match played in his honour at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.

The match was staged to celebrate the career of the popular cult figure who has decided to hang up his skates after 11 years with the Wild club and featured a “Team Wild” – basically made up of current Widnes Wild NIHL team players, albeit with the odd twist - and a “Team Kenergy” that Armstrong assembled featuring friends and former team-mates from his many years in the game.

The game was a fitting send off for the Widnes hero and was highly entertaining from start to finish with plenty of end to end hockey and lots of goals. First blood went to Team Ken with a goal from former Wild player coach Scott McKenzie after just 80 seconds.  Goals from Blackburn Eagles title winning coach Scott Barnett and McKenzie again saw the team in black leading 0-3 before Mikey Gilbert opened the Wild account on 6 minutes.     

Further strikes for Widnes from Luke Alston and Damarni James and a goal for Geoff Wigglesworth and hat-trick marker for McKenzie on the Ken team left the score at 3-5 at the first period break. 

Needless to say, the game was played in a great friendly spirit throughout and no penalties were given out for foul play. The two penalties that were awarded were of a humorous nature and one saw Mikey Gilbert being given 2 minutes for “Spending Too Much Money At DMH Tyres” and Armstrong being given 2 minutes for “fighting” to allow him to go to the penalty box and change his shirt so that he could play for the other team for the second half of the game.

The second period saw goals for Rhys Edwards and 2 more for Damarni James for the Wild and strikes from Armstrong, Tristan Grimshaw (2), Widnes all-time record points and goals scorer Shaun Dippnall and former Wild Women’s team player coach Amanda Armstrong (Ken’s wife), and the score stood at  6-10 after 40 minutes of play.

The third period saw honours shared with three goals for each side  – from Harrison Walker - the netminder playing as a skater for this game – Johno Williamson and Luke Alston for Widnes, and Phil Pearson, Barnett and McKenzie for Team Kenergy.

Not surprisingly Ken Armstrong was named as Most Valuable Player (MVP) for both teams at the end.

The team full line ups were as follows:

“Team Kenergy”: #5 Sam Dunford, #7 Tristan Grimshaw, #9 Ken Armstrong (00.00 - 35.05), #11 David Swanston, #12 Geoff Wigglesworth, #14 Josh Grocutt, #15 Lee Kemp, #16 Amanda Armstrong, #19 Calum Ruddick, #39 Scott Barnett, #44 Kohen Taylor, #47 Daniel Fay, #71 Jack Murray, #77 Scott McKenzie, #93 Shaun Dippnall, #96 Macauley Armstrong,  #30 Phil Pearson (NM)

Bench Coaches: Richard Charles & Emma Pearson 

“Team Wild”: #5 Rhys Edwards, #10 Nathan Britton, #11 Will Harper, #16 Mikey Gilbert, #17 Andrew Hopkins, #18 Jonathan Williamson, #20 Bez Hughes, #21 Damarni James,  #22 Louis Rosslyn, #27 Luke Alston, #32 Harrison Walker, #39 Matty Barlow, #46 Alex Mitchell, #48 Mark Gillingham, #84 Tom Jackson, #29 Jake Lowndes (NM), #9 Ken Armstrong (35.05 – 60.00)  

Bench Coaches: Luca Tessadri & Terry Gray

The referees for the game were Craig Williams - who is a former Wild player and actually played in the Wild’s first ever game alongside Armstrong back in August 2013 - and former Wild Academy and NIHL player Sam Anderson, who is now an Elite League referee. The linesmen were Neil Herring and Andrew Mackinnon.