The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild picked up their first ever win over higher league opposition with a 2 – 3 win away to the Blackburn Hawks on Saturday.
The Blackburn team play in the higher Moralee Division and it is widely accepted that there is a big gap in playing standards and team budgets between the two divisions, so the weekend’s back-to-back challenge games against the Hawks were always going to be a tough test for Head Coach Mike Clancy’s new-look Widnes team.
The Wild had never beaten a team from a higher division before and, with the Hawks team’s preparation for the new season somewhat hampered by refurbishment work going on at their home rink during the summer, there was every chance of an upset.
In the game on Saturday, the Wild started off well against their lofty opponents but found themselves trailing 1 – 0 at the first break. They upped their game considerably in the second period, matching the Hawks with shots on goal.
A goal from Ryan Kemp on 23 minutes levelled the score, then a strike from Michal Novak 6 minutes later edged the Wild into the lead. A second goal for Novak just 32 seconds into the third period put the Wild further ahead.
Blackburn peppered the Wild goal with shots but netminder Phil Pearson made some amazing saves to keep them out. The Hawks eventually scored again with 6 minutes to go and this left the game on a knife-edge right up to the final buzzer.
The resulting 2 – 3 score line meant that the Wild had beaten a team from a higher division for the first time ever.
- Saturday, 7th September 2019 – Challenge Match
- Blackburn Hawks 2 Widnes Wild 3
- Period Scores: 1 – 0, 0 – 2, 1 – 1
- Shots on Goal: Hawks 51- Wild 34 (16 – 13; 12 – 12; 23 – 9)
- Penalties in Minutes: Hawks 10 – Wild 16
- Wild scoring: Michal Novak 2 + 1; Ryan Kemp 1 + 1; Sean Dippnall 0 + 1.
- Match Officials: Chris Wells (Referee), Stuart Smith (Linesman), Krysztof Malek (Linesman)
- MVPs: Hawks Niks Trapans – YKK Widnes Wild Shaun Dippnall