Deeside Dragons 4 Widnes Wild 3
WIDNES Wild suffered heartbreak in the NIHL North promotion game at Blackburn Arena on Sunday after a scintillating game went to sudden-death overtime.
Having matched the higher division team for 64 minutes, they were finally undone by a powerplay goal in the last minute.
Each period ended with a goal for each side, Nick Manning, Bobby Caunce and Berwyn Hughes hitting the mark for a Wild side who had qualified by finishing second in the Laidler Conference table.
They were facing the team that had finished second from bottom in the Moralee Conference, with the winners going on to play in North One next season.
It is the third consecutive year that Widnes had qualified for the promotion game, having lost 5-0 to Sheffield Spartans at Blackburn last season and 20-5 on aggregate over two legs to Whitley Warriors in 2015.
Preparations for Sunday's game were unusual in that Wild did not even know who their opponents were going to be until the night before, when Blackburn Hawks fell to Deeside Dragons in a Moralee Conference relegation showdown to suffer automatic relegation.
Wild player-coach Ollie Barron said: “It is heart-breaking to lose in overtime but I am proud of every player.
"Nobody gave us a chance to compete with the Dragons, but the game could have gone either way.”
Widnes are back in action on Saturday when they play Altrincham Aces in the first semi final of the Laidler Conference play offs at iceSheffield, face-off at 10.30am.
If they win, they will play the winners of the Blackburn Eagles versus Sheffield Senators semi final in the play-off final on Sunday, face-off 1.30pm.