NIHL Midland Cup
Hawks line up: 14+2 – Widnes Wild line up: 13+2
Netminders: Hawks Niks Trapans – Widnes Wild Philip Pearson
The puck drops… Lee Pollitt makes the first impact in the game with a lifted shot saved by Pearson’s blocker. Hawks are the attacking team as James Riddoch tries to find Joe Greaves in the slot from the far corner. Wild intercept and pass the puck quickly up the ice and have a one on one with Niks but the eventual shot is across the face of goal rather than at it and is dealt with easily by Traps. Jack Murray clears from the crease to find Royds on the right. Pearson drops to his pads to deny him. It’s end to end hockey but neither team can create a real chance.
James Neil plays the puck out from the back to Petr Valusiak who passes up to Aaron Davies who unleashes a big slap shot from wide right which rebounds high after a stick save. Hawks come again as the trio of Tom Revesz, Corey Lee and Ronnie Grimes surge towards Pearson. The puck is loose between bodies as the three pass the puck between them but Wild can’t get a hold of it. Ronnie takes the opportunity to slot the puck home.
GOAL! BLACKBURN HAWKS 1-0 Widnes Wild. 6 minutes 38 seconds
Hawks maintain momentum and look the more dangerous team. A pass out from behind Pearson’s net falls to James Royds on the edge of the crease. His short range shot rebounds off the post. Wild don’t have any respite as Hawks take control again
Petr and Aaron play an effective 1-2 to wrong foot Pearson and Aaron Davies doubles Hawks’ score.
GOAL! BLACKBURN HAWKS 2-0 Widnes Wild. 9 minutes 37 seconds
Wild step up to the Hawks challenge and challenge themselves. Craig Lutkevitch takes a 2 minute penalty for slashing putting the Wild on a power play and Hawks clear the puck and chase.
Lee Pollitt and James Riddoch battle at the corner to Pearson’s left and hold the puck up for a number of seconds. Wild claim the puck and push into the neutral zone, that is until they come face to face with James Neil who takes the puck and pushes back, controlling the puck to count the time down. Hawks play well short handed and return to full strength unscathed
Ronnie flies up the left wing and takes the puck round the back of Pearson’s net. Unluckily he can’t find a fellow Hawk. Tom Revesz goes solo into the final third and although he controls the puck well he’s crowded out. Wild take possession at the back boards in their own zone and Petr resorts to slashing, Taking a 2 minute penalty in the process. Wild have the one man advantage at 5 on 4. Wild set up around Hawks but a sloppy pass is latched onto by Pollitt who goes coast to coast but his eventual shot is high over the cross bar. It spurs Hawks on though as they continue good attacking play short handed until the buzzer goes signalling the end of the first period.
End of first: Blackburn Hawks 2-0 Widnes Wild
The second period gets underway with neither team taking full control in the first seconds but Hawks are still short handed. Just as Hawks return to full strength, Wild’s Matt Tarpey takes a 2 minute penalty for holding. Hawks make a slow start with the extra man and Wild clear but Hawks get more on the ball and set up around Wild. Petr makes a huge shot from centre ice and the rebound sits in front of an empty net but Wild pounce on it before Hawks do. Hawks regain possession and Aaron is caught in the face with a slapshot which then pings off the crossbar. Aaron leaves the ice to have his injury tended to.
Joe Greaves takes his turn for a slap shot from the blue line. Pearson spills a rebound and James Neil is in the right place at the right time to put the puck away.
GOAL! BLACKBURN HAWKS 3-0 Widnes Wild. 22 minutes 54 seconds
Wild return to 5 skaters but Hawks remain the team on top as we see more long range shots but Pearson deals with them well. The Wild pressure Hawks well and work a shot from in front of Traps’ goal but it pings off the cross bar.
The puck is turned over a couple of times as neither team can stamp their authority on play. Davies returns to the bench in shirt number 33 as James Riddoch and Lee Pollitt play a creative 1-2 and Lee tries a back hand shot but it’s into Pearson’s chest. Royds and Pollitt link up well on the offensive but Lee has to battle 3 Wild players for the puck. The puck is released to Jared Dickinson at point whose shot is just wide of the far post and Hawks come agonisingly close again as Royds, at the top of the crease, hits the post.
Traps gets no rest making save after save and crossing the goal mouth to deny Wild at the near post as they have a brace of shots on goal. Luco makes a big hit at the boards and Wild’s Tarpey takes offence. They drop the gloves but the ‘fight’ consists of Luco throwing one punch and Matt Tarpey seeing the ice. Both players take 2+2 for roughing
The commotion works in Wild’s favour as the re-set quicker than Hawks and strike immediately. Wild’s Shaun Dippnall needs no assist as he finds the back of the net.
Goal: Blackburn Hawks 3-1 WIDNES WILD. 33 minutes 39 seconds
Wild draw the puck across the blue line and whip in a fast paced shot but Traps is on his toes and holds onto it. Hawks win the resulting face off and Aaron Davies breaks away. The puck stays just in front of him down the ice and he can’t really get it under control. Both teams return to 5 with 2 minutes remaining in the second period.
Hawks make their presence felt in the final third but Wild defend well. Ronnie fires in a short range attempt on goal but Pearson makes a pad save. Traps hugs his post at the other end of the ice to deny a Wild wrap around. With 11 seconds left of the second period, Hawks strike late. Davies on the left wing finds Petr powering forwards to his right. A shove in the back doesn’t deter Petr and he shoots at Pearson. An initial save sees the rebound fall straight back to Petr who makes no mistake second time around 11 seconds before the end of the second period.
GOAL! BLACKBURN HAWKS 4-1 Widnes Wild. 39 minutes 49 seconds.
End of second: Blackburn Hawks 4-1 Widnes Wild
As the third period gets underway Hawks push up the ice early but the puck is held against the boards in the corner by the defence. The ref blows his whistle for a face off in Wild’s zone and Hawks win it and pass well between them but Wild keep them at bay. Ethan Mayoh passes the puck goal wards from the far point. He finds Davies at the post and with a quick turn he takes a shot. It’s straight into Pearson’s pads for an easy save. Hawks continue from where they left off in the second period as Tom Revesz feeds Corey Lee the puck as he flies into the final third. A whipped in shot on one leg beats Pearson to male the back of the net bulge.
GOAL! BLACKBURN HAWKS 5-1 Widnes Wild. 42 minutes 36 seconds
Wild take a bench penalty for too many men leaving Hawks at 5 on 4. Theres some great passing play between Ethan, Rids and Pollitt but the 4th pass cross the blue line and Hawks clear on Wild’s behalf. Hawks keep up the tempo with well communicated team play but Wild clear and chase. Traps comes out of his net to claim the puck and holds his ground well.
Wild return to 5 skaters as Hawks still appear as if they’re on the power play and are still camped out on the final third when Joe Greaves’ shot is blocked and Wild’s Peter Toth’s foot suffers. It’s all Wild can do to keep defending as Hawks pepper Pearson with shots but the Wild manage to get out of their own zone and into Hawks’. Wild are called for offside but Hawks can’t keep control on the attack and Wild counter-attack. A 2 on 1 against Jared Dickinson is tough to deal with but Jared, with Traps, evens the numbers and keep the puck out.
Joe Greaves falls awkwardly and comes up injured, and he makes his way to the bench. Manages to keep out shots from Royds and Grimes Jnr who both make well aimed shots on goal. Ronnie tries again with a straight and true shot from point but Pearson makes a glove save.
Wild’s Sam Anderson takes a 2 minute penalty for hooking putting Hawks on the power play with 3 minutes 30 seconds remaining in the third period. Hawks set up around Wild and Petr shoots from centre blue line and Pearson spills the rebound. Wild are again surrounded. Pollitt fires a shot in which clips Ryan Kemp’s ear. Wild return to 5 skaters and Ronnie Grimes sets up Craig Lutkevitch who powers the puck in. Pearson gets something on it but it’s not enough to stop it for Hawks’ sixth.
GOAL! BLACKBURN HAWKS 6-1 Widnes Wild. 58 minutes 49 seconds
Again Ronnie comes close to finding the back of the net with a wicked shot to Pearson’s left. The net minder does well to keep it out. The remaining minute plays itself out and the buzzer goes for the end of the match.
Final score: Blackburn Hawks 6-1 Widnes Wild
MVPs: Blackburn Hawks – #37 Ronnie Grimes Jr, Widnes Wild – #30 Philip Pearson
Photos courtesy of Thomas Foy