Widnes Wild’s player/coach Richard Haggar is in the midst of creating history with the Cheshire based side.
Since joining the side in 2021 he has seen the team progress to the NIHL Division One North.
The Hull native has had a vast career playing across various levels and even different sports.
His passion for ice hockey started at a young age and has since developed to get him to where he is today.
How did you get into ice hockey?
“I actually got into ice hockey when I was about four or five years old, I went to watch a game at the Hull Ice Arena and from there I started to skate and play ice hockey.”
Do you remember your first game?
“Not quite, I probably played my first game at five or six and I can’t remember it unfortunately.”
What about your first goal?
“Definitely not, I’ve always played forward so it’s what I’ve always done.”
Do you remember your first big moment/game?
“Yeah, I guess the first big moment for me was back when I was playing Under-12s level in Hull for Kingston. We actually won the play-offs that year and that was the first real defining moment probably. The team we beat were one of the heavy favourites that year, we had a really good team though. Some of the players are still around to this day, Matty Davies, Stevie Lee people like that. They’ve obviously gone on to do what they do so that was probably the first major point of my career.”
What’s your career high?
“A bit of a mixture to be honest, I’ve played roller hockey as well as ice hockey throughout my career from a very young age. One of the highlights there would be winning the World Championships at roller hockey, we beat America in the final 7-3. It was over in America as well so we were underdogs. Another big moment I’ll always remember is going to Quebec with England Under-13s and playing out there and seeing that for the first time, it was eye-opening and what pushed me on to keep playing and wanting to become a better player.”
“I guess everybody always looks to up the NHL and players that play there, for myself I was always a Colorado Avalanche fan. People like Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg were the people I wanted to be like. My aim was to score goals like they scored goals, they were definitely my idols back in the day.”
You’re scoring record has been prolific this season 35 points in 18 games played, how’s that feel?
“It’s not about me really, it’s about the team so for me yes it’s a good achievement however the bigger picture is that the team’s doing well. We’ve reached a final and we’re sitting fourth currently in the league as well so it’s always about the team. It’s never about myself, personal achievements always come second to what the team can do and how we play.”
128-point season with Hull, how’d you manage that?
“It was one of them seasons, there were a few weaker teams in the league and I was probably playing some of the best hockey I’ve played. Especially as I took six years out from playing competitive ice hockey and I played uni hockey and a bit of roller hockey in the middle and that was probably my best season back, it just went very well!”
You did well to notch up that amount in 30-40 games!
“It was 28 I think, like I say though for me it’s about winning things and we didn’t win anything that season, so it doesn’t count to anything having all them points if you don’t win trophies at the end of it.”
Cup final this weekend, are you feeling the pressure to win now?
“No, I’m not really one that gets bothered by pressure I just take every game as it comes, prepare for every game. Try to make sure the team and the guys know what to expect from who we’re playing. Try and just make sure we’re the best we possibly can be, I guess. So, no I enjoy what I’m doing, I’ve got a great bunch of guys and they make my life easy ultimately so yes it’s on my shoulders but no there’s no pressure really.”
How much does it help having a player like Vlads Vulkanov in your side?
“He’s a special talent, people like him don’t come around often that can score goals from pretty much anywhere on the ice. It doesn’t matter where he’s stood he still manages to score, he did it again at the weekend from behind the goal, so yeah you can’t really describe him or put it into words how good he is. We work pretty well together because he plays a different type of game to me, we seem to have that connection and seems to be that we can work well together. From day one we’ve hit it off as linemates and as himself is just a phenomenal player.”
And on his goal at the weekend?
“You can’t teach it really no matter who you are or what player you are you can’t teach someone to finish the way he does. So having someone like that, he’s the top scorer in the league at the minute as well. Especially seeing as we’ve played less games than some other teams this season and he’s still managing to do it. His stats speak for themself really, he’s always scored nearly two goals a game pretty much. My game’s about passing and setting people up so being able to have somebody to pass to like that makes it even better and easier for me.”
Dundee on the weekend, what threat do they pose?
“They’ve got their own abilities, they’ve got their own strengths, I’ve seen some of the games, I’ve watched them already to prepare for this weekend. The difficulty with the Scottish League is it’s not the same type of hockey or same ability as down here. That’s why the games where they’ve gone to the cup have been a lot closer and they’ve even lost to Solway (Sharks). So they’ll still be a very good team, they’ve still got names that have been around leagues, I think even a couple of the players at some point have played in the Elite League. They’ve obviously got a very, very good goalkeeper as well from the stats that he puts up, stats wise he’s probably the best stat keeper looking on paper you’d come across in England or Scotland. They’ll be very much based on their keeper and they’ve got a few young kids too that can really skate. It’ll be interesting to see once we get out on the ice what kind of game they try play, I know what I’m expecting from them. We’re obviously going to work on that on Thursday (In training) to counteract that. So, I know what to expect and hopefully they play that way on the weekend.”
Are you confident you’ll win on Sunday then?
“Yeah, I believe in the guys 100% and every one of them just can’t wait. Soon as (last) Sunday was over with our attention turned straight away to making sure we lift that cup come Sunday night. I believe 100% in the guys that I’ve got, it’s why I brought the team in and have the players that I’ve got, because I believe that they are capable of doing things like this.”