The YKK Widnes Wild faced the Sheffield Scimitars for the first time on home ice this season, taking the 2 points after a thrilling 7-6 overtime win. Widnes now sit 7 points clear of the 8th place Nottingham Lions, following their loss to the Blackburn Hawks on Sunday night.


Forward Matty Barlow commented on the result, ‘The overtime game was a big positive. It’s another 2 points to add to the table. We obviously had Nottingham and Sheffield trailing behind us so to move 8 points clear is a big positive, especially with us playing them in the coming weeks. Clearly at some points tonight, things weren’t going our way but we pushed and come out with the win that we wanted.’


Wild iced with a short-benched squad of 13+2, once again missing #55 Owen Rae and #61 Bailey Thomson due to a clash of fixtures. Additionally, core members #5 Rhys Edwards and #11 Will Harper were unavailable to ice, but #8 Jake Meehan plus #9 Ken Armstrong returned to the lineup to boost numbers.


Netminder #30 Phil Pearson was given his 2nd start of the season, backed up by Bradford Bulldogs 2-way #29 Jake Lowndes, after his winning performance in Deeside the weekend prior. Meanwhile, Sheffield also travelled with 13+2, missing players due to disciplinary bans and opted for #90 Nick Winters in-between the pipes.


Widnes made a statement start, scoring the opening goal just 25 seconds after the initial face-off. Forward #39 Matty Barlow fired the puck top corner past #90 Nick Winters after a pass from #88 Kyle Carruth.


After an electric start, the Scimitars quickly looked to level the game, sending a flurry of shots towards #30 Pearson. Sheffield’s #19 Ryan Fraley eventually levelled the game at 13:02 with a backdoor tap-in, assisted by #20 Michael Danecko and #73 Fritz Heinzle.


The first penalty of the game was handed to #88 Kyle Carruth at 18:42 for interference, leaving Widnes a man down. However, moments before the buzzer, #39 Matty Barlow grabbed his 2nd of the game, assisted by #63 Joey Coulter at 19:59 to post the score at 2-1. Despite being outshot 14 to 11, the Wild carried the lead into the 2nd period.

Widnes returned for the 2nd period still short-handed, and killed Carruth’s penalty without conceding. However, just 30 seconds later, #18 Johnathon Williamson picked up a hooking call, leaving Wild on the penalty kill once more. Captain #5 Tyler Nixon was the one to capitalise on the advantage for the Scimitars, slotting the puck low past Pearson at 22:16.


Sheffield then returned the favour 34 seconds after scoring, when #75 Regan Kidd received a delay of game penalty, putting Widnes on a power-play for the 1st time of the night.


The hat-trick goal for #39 Matty Barlow came at 24:35 after he fired the puck once more into the net, assisted by #63 Joey Coulter and #20 Bez Hughes. Widnes carried their momentum forward and doubled the lead to 4-2 at 25:57 through #88 Kyle Carruth via #21 Damarni James.


The Scimitars however reduced the deficit back to 1 soon after, again through #5 Tyler Nixon on a breakaway at 28:57, assisted by #23 Sam Rodgers and #73 Fritz Heinzle. Widnes returned to the attack, but Winters kept the offence at bay to maintain the narrow scoreline.


The equaliser for Sheffield was tapped in again by #19 Ryan Fraley on 36 minutes, assisted by #23 Sam Rodgers and #75 Regan Kidd to post the score 4-4 heading into the final frame. Arguably, #30 Pearson kept the Wild in the game at times during the 2nd period, as he faced 18 shots, double the amount on Winters.


Sheffield were the more attacking side in the opening minutes of the 3rd, and their pressure soon payed off. Top points scorer #23 Sam Rodgers bagged his 1st goal of the game, firing low into the goal to give Sheffield the lead for the 1st time at 44:21.


Widnes started to gain more possession of the puck and pushed for the equaliser after going behind. A snipe from #24 Flynn Massie was spilt by Winters, allowing #17 Andrew Hopkins to tap the puck home at 53:05, levelling the score to 5-5.


Sheffield were handed a huge opportunity in the final 5 minutes as #88 Kyle Carruth sat for embellishment at 55:33, leaving Widnes a player short. A strike from point by #73 Fritz Heinzle re-gained the lead for Sheffield on the power-play, leaving the game 6-6 with just 3 full minutes remaining in regulation time.


After serving his time in the penalty box, Kyle Carruth sniped the puck into the Sheffield goal at 58:17, assisted by line-mate Matty Barlow to equalise. Widnes pushed for a late 7th goal but the buzzer sounded before they scored, sending the game into overtime.


Wild opted for captain Nathan Britton, Flynn Massie and Kyle Carruth as their starting 3on3 lineup. Pearson made the first big save of the 5 minutes, forcing a whistle at 60:33. Widnes then changed lines to Barlow, Coulter and Williamson during the break in play.


Widnes continued to rifle shots on Winters, but he held strong for his team as the clock counted down. The golden goal eventually came from D-man #18 Johnathon Williamson, assisted by #10 Nathan Britton and #88 Kyle Carruth at 64:26 to seal the victory for the home side.

MVPs were awarded to game-winner defenceman Johnathon Williamson for Widnes, whilst forward #19 Ryan Fraley received the title for Sheffield after scoring a brace.


After posting 5 points in the game, the new Widnes top-points scorer added, ‘I feel good. It’s a good feeling, it’s just a hard one because obviously I’d have liked to try and beat them by a few more, but at the end of the day it’s a team game and we all rely on each other to post points, I couldn’t do it without them.’


Officials: Carratt, Goodfellow, Munroe


STATS – (2-1) (2-3)(2-2)(1-0)


Widnes Wild: Matty Barlow 3+2, Kyle Carruth 2+2, Andrew Hopkins 1+0, Johnathon Williamson 1+0, Joey Coulter 0+2, Mikey Gilbert 0+1, Bez Hughes 0+1, Damarni James 0+1, Flynn Massie 0+1, Nathan Britton 0+1


Phil Pearson – 14/18/11/1 (44 shots)


Sheffield Scimitars: Ryan Fraley 2+0, Tyler Nixon 2+0, Sam Rodgers 1+3, Fritz Heinzle 1+3 ,Michael Danecko 0+2, Regan Kidd 0+1, Euan Williams 0+1, Thomas Dermott 0+1


Nicholas Winters – 11/9/6/4 (30 shots)


Article written by Fleur Tobin


Photos by Ste Cunningham