Saturday saw the Swindon Wildcats play the first of their two home fixtures over the weekend when third in the league side the Guildford Flames, travelled to the Link Centre looking to rectify a streak of three straight losses.
As to be expected both teams opened the game looking to contain the puck and with it minimise any errors made on open ice. Guildford quickly tried to show why they are third in the league with some fast paced break out plays, however it would be the home side who would find the net first. Just over ten minutes into the game and on the powerplay, Swindon forward Matt Foord picked up his sides’ first after scoring at the far post off a pin point Raimonds Danilics pass. A well set up play gave Swindon the first advantage in the game and although only being the first goal, it set the way of a great contest to unveil.
The rest of the first period saw a very end to end affair and with both netminders being tested on several occasions, it was only a matter of time before then next goal was scored. At 16:23 it was the Flames who converted next and after a melee of bodies surrounded the Swindon goal, Guildford’s Rick Plant followed through with a wrist shot to tie up the game. Although controversially given after the appeal of the Swindon netminder being impeded, the goal stood and Guildford looked to be back in the game. The period wound to an end shortly after and both sides headed into the locker room, looking content with a 1-1 score.
The second opened and both teams merely picked up where they left off, injecting even more pace to the play. However fourteen minutes in and the crowd then saw the next goal go in, again in the favour of the home side. At 34:13 ‘Cats defenseman Jan Krajicek used a rapid slapshot to beat Flames netminder Dean Skinns, with a build up play within the Guildford zone leading to the goal. A well celebrated goal saw the home side take the lead once more and have the upper hand on the Surrey side for the second side in the game.
Shortly after this, Swindon then saw their confidence re-enforced when netminder Chris Douglas made a spectacular save, stacking the pads across the crease in a great diving effort. From here the Wildcats were able to fend off the away side for the rest of the period and after second buzzer sounded, they headed off the ice with the lead at 2-1 after forty minutes.
The final period saw some great play from both sides and looking in through the last twenty, it was clear how much the two point win ment to both sides. The physicality increased, personal battles immerged and the overall quality of play increased as the period continued. Five minutes into the period and Guildford were once again able to equalise after defending at one point, a five on three play. Still shorthanded the Flames used a well executed counter play to find the net, when import Lukas Smital placed a shot over netminder Douglas from close range.
Seeing the powerplay not result as they had wanted, Swindon then seemed to come together as a unit from here and just over five minutes on, they then scored once more with a great play by the Slovakian Jozef Kohut. A well recycled play by forward Aaron Nell saw the puck pass across the crease to Kohut waiting in the middle. After picking up the loose pass, Kohut’s soft hands at close range saw the netminder commit and the forward place the shot into the gap for Swindon’s third of the evening.
Constant pressure from Guildford ment for a tense final five minutes and with three penalties fended off between the two sides, further chances still came on both goals.
The final two minutes saw a flurry of penalties and finding themselves shorthanded with the Flames pulling their netminder, Swindon had the most difficult task to keep the lead to the end of the game.
The Wildcats stood strong whilst the play circulated in their zone however and what may have proven to be a monumental move, saw ‘Cats import Raimonds Danilics skate to the bench after blocking a slapshot with the side of his body. From here Guildford rarely found another shot on target and with the relief coming from the majority of the crowd, the final buzzer sounded.
A well earned two point win now sees Swindon extend their home winning streak to three and keep the pressure on local rivals Bracknell in the league. Saturday’s game will bring further confidence to the team when they now face Slough on Sunday in the second of their two home fixtures over the weekend.
Swindon Wildcats 3-2 Guildford Flames
Man of the Match: Jan Krajicek
Scott Gummerson - Swindon Wildcats Online