ON the face of it, losing both of your first two games of a season seems like a poor start.

However, considering the lack of training his side had done together, Widnes Wild player-coach Richard Haggar was taking the positives.

The Wild suffered back-to-back losses on the opening weekend of the new NIHL North Three Rivers Cup, going down 6-2 at home to Nottingham Lions on Saturday before a 5-2 loss at Sheffield Scimitars the following day.

They have no fixture this weekend and Haggar says they will use the time productively.

“It was a disappointing weekend for us not to come away with a win from either game," he said.

"However, for a team who had only trained together once, it was a good start.

“We have this weekend off, so we will work on a few things over the next couple of weeks to be ready for the next game.

"I think it’s going to be a well-contested cup, as each team is capable of being each other but our aim is to win and that’s what we will look to do in the remaining six games.”

With this new set of games being played during the period that is usually ice hockey’s close season, a number of the players who had taken part in the Wild’s successful NIHL North Cup campaign were unavailable and Haggar drafted in an interesting mix of youth and experience to replace them.

In came Kieran Brown - who has played at Elite League level with the Sheffield Steelers, Sheffield Steeldogs player Brady Doxey, promising young netminder Harrison Walker from Blackburn and Haggar’s former Hull team mates Jay Robinson and Boris Giba coming in.

Bobby Streetly – with over 300 NIHL games under his belt with Blackburn Hawks and Wightlink Raiders – brought extra experience and Wild Academy Under 18 player Tristan Grimshaw has also been promoted to the senior team.

The opening game was closer than the scoreline suggests, with Widnes trailing 2-1 going into the final 20 minutes of play before equalising thanks to Brown's second goal of the game.

As the hosts stepped up the pressure, though, Nottingham retook the lead and added three late goals to put some gloss on the scoreline.

At Sheffield, Widnes had pulled level after being 2-0 down – Michael Gilbert scrambled home from close range before a wonderful one-timer from Doxey.

Widnes continued to test the home netminder either side of going 3-2 down late in the second period, but Sheffield added a crucial fourth goal before another late on.

The Wild's next two games are away to the same opposition – they visit Nottingham on April 24 and Sheffield on May 1 – before hosting the Scimitars at Planet Ice Widnes on May 2.