The YKK Widnes Wild faced the Sheffield Scimitars for the final time this season at home on Sunday night, after playing them just 2 weekends before which ended in a dramatic 7-6 overtime win in favour to Widnes. However, this time it was the bottom table Scimitars who claimed the 2 points with a 3-9 victory, closing the gap to 6 points between 7th and 9th place.


D-man Will Harper commented on the result; ‘I feel like there are definitely areas that we can improve on, especially looking ahead to next weekend. I don’t think that’s how anyone wanted the game to fall, but Sheffield played to their strengths and deserved the win.’


Widnes iced with a full 3-line squad of 17+2, with Owen Rae, Bailey Thomson, Ken Armstrong, Jake Meehan and Jake Lowndes all returning back to the squad. However, they were still without the firepower of forwards Kyle Carruth, Rhys Edwards and Flynn Massie. Netminder Phil Pearson was given the start again, backed up by Bradford 2-way Jake Lowndes.


Meanwhile, the Scimitars travelled with a short bench of 12+2, still missing several key players from their lineup. Nick Winters once again stood between the pipes for Sheffield, backed up by Charlie Henry.


Widnes won the initial face-off and pushed for an early goal through #11 Will Harper in the first minute, just like they had the previous weekend against the Nottingham Lions. However, #5 Tyler Nixon intercepted the puck and immediately shot on Pearson to force his 1st save of the game.

After firing shots on Pearson, #73 Fritz Heinzle grabbed the opening goal with a back door tap-in at 3:45, assisted by #23 Sam Rodgers and #5 Tyler Nixon. Wild quickly looked to level the score, but failed to find a way past Winters.


Sheffield’s top points scorer #23 Sam Rodgers then doubled the lead after putting the rebound from Pearson bottom corner of the net at 6:36, with both Heinzle and Nixon picking up the assists. Widnes looked to break out through Barlow after a pass up the ice from Hughes, but the final shot went wide of the Scimitars’ goal.


There was then a scramble in the Widnes crease, but the defence kept composure and cleared the puck from danger as the Scimitars looked to extend their lead. The first penalty was handed out to #73 Fritz Heinzle at 16:07 for hooking to give Wild a power-play opportunity.


Former Sheffield forward #10 Nathan Britton then reduced the deficit at 17:21, assisted by #16 Mikey Gilbert and #63 Joey Coulter on the man advantage. Widnes carried their momentum forwards and quickly looked to level the score, but they were still a goal behind after the 1st period.

After the ice cut, Widnes applied pressure on the Sheffield defence , but then found themselves on a penalty kill as they moved play forward. Player-coach #63 Joey Coulter sat 2 minutes for interference, leaving Scimitars on the advantage. Captain #5 Tyler Nixon fired from the wing to post the score 1-3 at 25:01, assisted by Rodgers and Dermott.


Widnes returned to 5 skaters after the goal, but just 14 seconds later, D-man #46 Alex Mitchell received a delaying the game penalty, to put Wild on the back foot again. A 2nd penalty for Coulter, handed out at 26:03, left his side short of 2 men momentarily. Despite killing both penalties, Widnes let in the 4th goal at 28:49 after #5 Tyler Nixon squeezed the puck through a gap between Pearson and the post unassisted.


A further 2 penalties, given to #11 Will Harper and #21 Damarni James just 15 seconds between them for roughing interference and roughing allowed Sheffield another huge chance. #23 Sam Rodgers bagged his 2nd of the night on the 5on3 power-play at 30:41 after a tap-in from the rebound, via #20 Danecko and #73 Heinzle.


The hat-trick goal for Captain #5 Nixon was timed at 33:31 after he scored on the breakaway, assisted by line-mates #23 Rodgers and #73 Heinzle. Wild’s Bailey Thomson fired 2 late shots on Winters, but failed to find the back of the net, leaving Widnes on a 5 goal deficit after 40 minutes.


There was no stopping Sheffield’s number #5 Tyler Nixon who posted his team’s 7th goal just 11 seconds into the final period, assisted by #23 Rodgers and #83 Crowther. Widnes were determined to claw back a goal, and finally made a breakthrough at 46:03. #16 Mikey Gilbert fired the puck on target, which tricked past the goal line via Winters’ skate, assisted by #21 Damarni James.


Sheffield then made the decision to swap netminders to #72 Charlie Henry after conceding. The Wild upheld their determination and reduced the deficit back to 4 goals soon after the strike from Gilbert. Ex-Scimitars player #11 Will Harper skated in alone through the Sheffield defence alone and sniped the puck from the left wing at 47:26 which landed top corner.


Widnes continued to apply pressure on the Scimitars, eager to reduce the scoreline, but soon found themselves on the penalty kill at 54:33 as #46 Alex Mitchell sat for roughing. Mitchell’s D-partner #11 Will Harper then received a call for elbows at 56:19, leaving Wild short once more.

#73 Fritz Heinzle then extended the lead for Sheffield with a tap in on the back post, from #23 Sam Rodgers and #70 Regan Kidd on the advantage. A final goal for the Scimitars, saw the 2nd hat-trick of the night go to #73 Fritz Heinzle just 12 seconds before the final buzzer, assisted by #65 Wickens and #5 Nixon, which finished the game at 3-9 in favour to Sheffield.


After playing against his former teammates, Harper added;It was great to see some of my old team again and especially some of the younger lads making the step up from juniors into the Scimitars team. It felt amazing to grab a goal against them too though.’



MVPs were awarded to utility player #8 Jake Meehan for Widnes Wild and Captain #5 Tyler Nixon for the Sheffield Scimitars after his 7 point performance.


Officials: Carratt, Currell, Munroe


Widnes Wild: Mikey Gilbert 1+1, Nathan Britton 1+0, Will Harper 1+0, Joey Coulter 0+1, Damarni James 0+1


Phil Pearson: (14/19/10) 43 shots


Sheffield Scimitars: Tyler Nixon 4+3, Fritz Heinzle 3+4, Sam Rodgers 2+4, Tom Dermott 0+1, Michael Danecko 0+1, Ben Crowther 0+1, Regan Kidd 0+1, Reece Wickens 0+1


Nick Winters: (7,9,2) 18 shots – Charlie Henry (0/0/4) 4 shots


Article written by Fleur Tobin

Photos taken by Ste Cunningham