WIDNES Wild got the new season off to a great start with am emphatic 1-10 warm-up game win over local rivals Altrincham Aces on Sunday.

With a large player turn-over during the summer months, Wild gave debuts to six of their new signings, including former roller hockey international Matthew Tarpey, who was playing his first ever competitive match on ice.

Wild took the lead after just 25 seconds with a goal from newly-appointed Captain, Danny Bullock, and two goals from import forward Michal Novak put the game beyond Altrincham’s reach as early as the twelfth minute. A debut goal for Ryan Kemp and strikes by Ken Armstrong and Tom Ratcliffe handed the Wild a 0–6 lead going into the first period break.

Both of these teams have seen a lot of upheaval over the summer months, with numerous personnel changes, and the Aces didn’t have any imports playing in this game, so it is hard at this early point of the season to guess how things will go once the Laidler Division campaign gets underway in earnest.

The second period continued very much in the vein of the first, with the Wild out-shooting their hosts and edging further ahead, with goals from debutant Tarpey (2) and further strikes from Novak and Armstrong.

With the score standing at 0-10 after two periods, the Aces did manage to stem the flow in the third period, after a change of netminder, and scored the only goal of the period with just eight seconds left to play.

The Wild’s new net-minding partnership of Jonah Armstrong and Philip Pearson both put in excellent performances in front of goal.

Wild are at home to the Altrincham Aces in a return challenge match this Sunday 1 September at Planet Ice Widnes.

Prior to the match, there will be a special ceremony in honour of former player/coach Ollie Baron whose number 7 shirt will be “retired”, so spectators are advised to take their seats in plenty of time. The game faces off at 5.30 p.m. and doors open at 4.45 p.m.

The Wild have announced the final piece of the jigsaw for their 2019/20 Laidler Division roster with the return of defenceman Dan Bracegirdle.

Dan was an important member of last year’s League and Play Off double winning team and this will be his fifth season with the Wild. Bracegirdle was one of the initial group of players who formed the basis of the Wild team when the club first started in the summer of 2013, having previously played for the Blackpool-based Fylde Flyers.

Dan missed the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 seasons through illness but fought back with a vengeance and remains an important member of the Team. In his four seasons to date with the Wild, he has played 99 games, scored 5 goals and 9 assists and notched up 142 penalty minutes.

Talking about his re-signing for the team, Bracegirdle said: “I am looking forward to returning for what will be my fifth season with the Wild. Last year was fantastic to be part of as a team, we achieved some great things and set outselves high standards so, hopefully, we can go on and repeat it this year.”

The Widnes Wild women’s team have announced the return of three of their longest serving and highly experienced players for the new WNIHL North Division One season.

Emma Pearson, Vanessa Crickmore-Clarke and Stephanie Drinkwater were all members of the Manchester Phoenix women’s team that moved en bloc to Widnes in the summer of 2015 and this will be their fifth season in Wild colours.

Team Captain Emma Pearson was an “ever-present” in the Wild women’s team last season in the Women’s Premier League, taking part in all 14 league and challenge games. She was joint top point scorer with 2 goals and 6 assists and was also the Wild women’s top penalty taker with 16 PIM. In her four seasons to date, Emma has played 43 games in total for Widnes, scoring 6 + 17 overall.

Pearson first started playing for the short-lived Altrincham Avalanche team, which only ran for one season due to the closure of the old Altrincham rink in 2002. She then played three seasons with the Flintshire Furies – based at Deeside – two seasons with the Kingston (Hull) Diamonds and seven seasons with the Sheffield Shadows, before returning to Manchester with the new Phoenix women’s team in 2013. Overall, Pearson has played over 200 competitive games – including 18 for the Manchester Metros university team – and has scored 84 + 82. She has also played on numerous occasions for the Scotland representative team.

Vanessa Crickmore-Clarke started playing ice hockey in her native north east, icing for some 9 seasons with the Sunderland Scorpions, during which time the team won the five league titles. She then played for the Altrincham Avalanche team in 2001/2002 and had 6 seasons with the Flintshire Furies, before switching to the Phoenix women’s team in 2013. Vanessa has an impressive playing career of over 250 competitive games but, unfortunately, records no longer exist for her time playing for Sunderland. Vanessa has played 32 games for the Wild Women Team, scoring 2 goals and 1 assist from her defensive role.

Netminder Stephanie Drinkwater was the most over-worked goalie in the Women’s Premier League last season, facing 965 shots – but stopping 856 of them for an overall save percentage of 88.70%.

She was an “ever-present” in the team last year and overall has played 45 matches for the Wild women. Stephanie started playing competitive ice hockey in the 2013/2014 season when she joined the Manchester Phoenix women’s team, where she played for two seasons before moving to the Wild.

The Wild women will be playing in WNIHL North Division and the league fixtures will be announced shortly. As things stand, their first game will be a challenge game against Solway Sharks Ladies on Sunday 22nd September at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30pm face off.