The YKK Widnes Wild returned to league action, facing 8th place Nottingham Lions at home on Sunday after a disappointing loss the previous night in the M56 cup. The Lions came away with the 2 points after a 2-5 victory, closing the gap to just 5 points between the teams.


Widnes iced with a depleted squad of 12+1, missing Kyle Carruth, Owen Rae, Bailey Thomson and Ken Armstrong who all played the evening prior, due to unavailabilities. However, Flynn Massie and Luke Alston were added to the lineup to boost numbers. Wild’s Phil Pearson started in net again, without a backup on the bench.


Nottingham travelled north icing 14+2 players, without Captain #9 Luke Thomas and opted for #14 Toby Fisher to take over the role for the evening. The Lions started with Panthers 2-way netminder #33 Luca Sheldon, backed up by #18 Isaac Ballinger.


Widnes came out firing, looking for an early lead after winning the initial face-off. The previous night’s MVP #11 Will Harper got the team off to the best start possible, firing the puck past Sheldon at just 34 seconds after a drop-pass from #63 Joey Coulter via #39 Matt Barlow.

Wild were then struck with a penalty at 3:12 as #21 Damarni James headed to the box for tripping. Just 8 seconds into the powerplay, Nottingham equalised through #41 James Mather, assisted by #23 Zach Yokoyama and #87 Tyler Somerton to post the score at 1-1.


Both sides pushed for the advantage, but neither could find the back of the net in a quick run of play. Nottingham then made a breakthrough at 11:02 through #29 Dan Martin with both #87 Somerton and #23 Yokoyama picking up their 2nd assists of the game.


Widnes attempted to set up play in the Lions’ zone during the remainder of the 1st period, but Sheldon retained the lead for his side after 20 minutes.


Both teams returned to the ice for the 2nd period, with Widnes changing their jerseys to the 10year anniversary threads due to a colour clash. The Wild forwards failed to find a way to break through Sheldon and the team spent most of the period in their own zone.


Nottingham were handed their 1st penalty of the game at 27:33, seeing #27 Joshua Dowds sit 2 minutes for holding, giving Wild a chance to equalise. Widnes looked to find the perfect shot on the powerplay, passing the puck around the zone but failed to draw the game level.


The Lions extended their lead to 2 at 34:13 via #87 Tyler Somerton who fired the puck bar-down on the left wing past Pearson, assisted by #27 Josh Dowds. The Widnes defenders then also started to put shots on Sheldon, but luck wasn’t swaying in the way of the white jerseys.

A snipe from #14 Toby Fisher was spilled by Pearson and then tapped-in by Nottingham’s top points scorer #23 Zach Yokoyama at 38:24 to give the Lions a 3 goal advantage. Tensions then spilled in the final minute of the 2nd period, seeing Harper sit for roughing. Meanwhile #21 Parson Mehrvand sat an incentment penalty for his netminder #33 Luca Sheldon at 39:02.


Widnes re-discussed tactics in the break and played a more physical game in the final period, after being outshot 14 to 5 in the previous period. Nottingham also shifted to a defensive mindset, looking to retain their lead.


Wild just couldn’t find a way to beat Sheldon, who hadn’t let a goal in for over 40 minutes. The 5th marker for Nottingham was the 1st NIHL D1 goal for #74 Luke Birchnall, after firing at Pearson who made the initial stop, but failed to stop the puck rolling past the line.


Nottingham’s #27 Joshua Dowds received his 2nd penalty of the night for tripping at 49:19 to give Widnes a chance of reducing the deficit. However, the Wild once more failed to score on the PP and later returned the favour to the Lions as #24 Flynn Massie sat for interference at 56:12.


A further 2 penalties were handed to #11 Will Harper and #96 Tristan Grimshaw both for cross-checking in the Widnes crease on 57 minutes. Wild managed to kill the existing penalty without conceding and returned to 5 skaters.


Just 90 seconds after leaving the penalty box, #24 Flynn Massie clawed a goal back, to score his first for Widnes at 59:42, assisted by #63 Joey Coulter, to post the final score at 2-5 to the visitors.

MVPs were awarded to forward Flynn Massie after scoring his 1st NIHL D1 goal for Widnes and #87 Tyler Somerton, posting 3 points in the game for Nottingham.


Officials: Ryder, Cunningham, Fielden


STATS – (1-2) (0-2) (1-1)


Widnes Wild: Will Harper 1+0, Flynn Massie 1+0, Joey Coulter 0+2, Matty Barlow 0+1


Phil Pearson – 11/14/13


Nottingham Lions: James Mather 1+0, Tyler Somerton 1+2, Zach Yokoyama 1+2, Dan Martin 1+1, Luke Birchnall 1+0, Joshua Dowds 0+1, Toby Fisher 0+1

Luca Sheldon – 8/5/11


Article written by Fleur Tobin


Photos taken by Ste Cunningham