WIDNES Wild had a mixed weekend with a 2 – 3 win away to the Blackburn Hawks on Saturday and a 5 – 10 home defeat to the same opposition at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.

The Blackburn Hawks 1 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 these back-to-back challenge games 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 over the weekend.

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.

The home game at Widnes on Sunday saw a much better organised and more imposing Blackburn team and they took the lead just 70 seconds into the game. It was 0 – 2 to Blackburn by the time Shaun Dippnall fired in the opening goal for Widnes and 2 more goals for the visitors before the end of the first period left the Wild with a lot of catching up to do.

Widnes picked up somewhat after the first break and a 3 – 3 second period – with goals from Danny Bullock, Matt Tarpey and Peter Toth – saw them steady the ship. The Wild came out of the dressing room much the better side in the third period but any hopes of a late fight-back were dashed with Blackburn’s 8th goal on 46 minutes. Daniel Fay fired in the Wild’s 5th and final goal on 50 minutes and Blackburn hit two more to finish the game in double figures.

Hawks’ highly experienced Aaron Davies – a member of their “double double” winning squad and former Elite League player – caused the most damage, scoring 5 of the Blackburn goals and was deservedly named MVP for the visitors, while the accolade for the Wild went to Lee Kemp. The MVP Awards were presented by Kat Garner of the Widnes Wild women’s team.

The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild are next in action this Sunday, 15th September when they take on Sheffield Senators in their first Laidler Division game of the new season at Planet Ice Widnes. Face Off is at 5.30 p.m. and doors open at 4.45 p.m.