Widnes Wild boss Scott McKenzie has targeted second place in NIHL North Laidler D2 after his team were beaten to top spot by Deeside Dragons.
Wild’s hopes of securing automatic promotion to Moralee D1 were ended after their recent 7-7 draw against the Dragons, and McKenzie says he’s frustrated to lose out to their rivals.
“When I first came on board I was extremely confident I could put a team together that would be capable of winning the league,” said McKenzie.
“With having a year in Telford with the NIHL team I knew how much they achieved with such a young team, so felt like I would be able to a similar job here.
“What I could never anticipate was the Red Hockey takeover of Deeside, which put a significant amount of funding into a team I felt were 100% beatable without it.”
Whilst admitting he was disappointed to not win the league, McKenzie believes he has assembled a group of players with an excellent team spirit.
Promotion remains a possibility, with second place guaranteeing a promotion/relegation play-off against the team finishing eighth in D1.
McKenzie added: “I wanted to develop a group of players into a close nit family that would do anything for each other and we’ve certainly achieved that.”
“We’ve had record crowds at our home games and also taken up to 100 fans on the road, which I think is exceptional for an NIHL2 team.
“Our ‘Brand’ has certainly grown in the community and there is a real buzz around Widnes with people talking about the local ice hockey team.
“Sometimes there are more important things to think about. We have building blocks in place to provide structure through the club from bottom to top.
“From our youngest registered player to our oldest we are fully committed to develop our players.
“Everyone is expected to work hard, but also to play with a smile on their face. Our hockey basics numbers are increasing month by month, which in turn will provide stability to our junior club and eventually onto our seniors.
“Our main target is to have a home grown Widnes player wearing a Wild jersey, but also being productive within the local community.
“The remaining games will not be easy, but we take it one at a time aiming for two points as our target every night.
“The scorelines really don’t matter at this time of year – it is just about wins. Securing second place would be a real landmark for the club and something the players, staff and fans could be extremely proud of.”
(Image permission: Geoff White)