Swindon Wildcats 6 - Bracknell Bees 5
After a pleasing bonus point gained in MK on Saturday evening, Sunday saw, the Swindon Wildcats return to home ice to take on the Bracknell Bees. With Sam Bullas missing the game through injury and Jordan Kelsall on tour with the Okanagan Hockey Academy, the Wildcats went into the contest missing two important forwards.
The opening few minutes of the game went against the Wildcats. The Bees took the lead after just 77 seconds. After a Jan Kostal sliding block in front of the net to stop Scott Spearing, Martin Pavlicek picked up the loose puck and fired his shot towards the net where Carl Thompson was able to redirect the puck past Stevie Lyle. Things went from bad to worse for the hosts shortly after, a cross ice pass from Luka Basic was very well diverted into the top corner of Lyle’s net by Alex Barker, doubling the Bees lead at 2:46 and leading Aaron Nell to call his time out less than three minutes into the game.
The timeout helped steady the ship somewhat, and with the Cats swiftly on a five on three powerplay, they had a glorious chance to get back into the game. Alex Mettam in the Bees pipes stood strong and pulled off a couple of big saves to deny Jonas Höög & Phil Hill. At 11:17 however, the Cats opened their account for the evening. Another powerplay for Swindon saw Tomasz Malasinski & Ben Nethersell combine with the latter making a neat pass to Robin Kovar who slammed home a one-timed effort off the pipework and into the back of the net.
After reducing, the deficit to a single goal the Wildcats were beginning to find their feet again and the momentum was beginning to swing in their favour. Big open ice hits from Jan Kostal & Max Birbraer began to get the crowd more involved in the game and at 18:49, everyone in attendance was treated to a moment of sheer magic from Tomasz Malasinski.
The Polish international picked up the puck from Neil Liddiard, skated in on goal, spun around the defender and just when everyone thought the play was dead; lifted the backhand shot up into the far corner of the goal to tie the game. A goal truly worth watching again on the highlights!
Another four goals followed in the middle period, the Bees again putting their noses in front at 26:04 when James Galazzi followed up a rebound after Lyle had saved the original Alex Barker shot. The lead did not last long at all and at 28:36, the Cats had tied the game up again. Jonas Höög fed the puck back to Stevie Whitfield, whose long-range effort was enough to beat Mettam.
At 31:41, the gloves came flying off between Kyle Smith & James Galazzi with both players landing big blows in a good tilt, which resulted in Galazzi needing to leave the ice for treatment. The fight gave the team much needed momentum and the home side finally got their noses in front when Robin Kovar was able to pick out the top right hand corner of the net for his second goal of the evening at 32:01, with the assists going to Tomasz Malasinski & Phil Hill.
Shaun Thompson did not let the Cats settle and at 34:30, the Bees were level again. His long-range strike was enough to beat Stevie Lyle and bring the game level going into the third period; with the assist going to Alex Barker.
The pendulum was swinging back and forth again, in the third period; once again, the Wildcats fell behind yet again when Shaun Thompson was able to benefit from a deflection off the knee of a Wildcats defender and he tapped in at the back door to make it 4-5. The desperation was not to be seen for the Cats, they remained focused and at 53:18, they got their rewards. Toms Rutkis was able to pounce on a rebound and fire into the empty net to bring the Wildcats level again.
The whistle sounded on the end of regulation and the overtime sudden death period was upon us. With the Cats on a powerplay for the first three minutes after Josh Tetlow was ejected for butt ending at 58:11. The Wildcats closest effort came through Ben Nethersell who had been working the puck well and fired a big shot off the crossbar as the puck flew out of play. The overtime period had finished and the dreaded penalty shootout was upon us, the second in two days for Swindon.
Luka Basic & Jan Kostal both stepped up first and neither player was able to convert. In the second round, it was the opposite Shaun Thompson neatly moved Stevie Lyle and scored before Jonas Höög lifted the puck over Mettam into the corner of the net. Round three saw Alex Barker’s effort save by Lyle before Tomasz Malasinski saw his effort go agonizingly wide of the post. David Gaborcik would be the last shooter for the Bees as Lyle saved his shot before the man in form; Robin Kovar stepped up for the Cats and slid the puck under Mettam to seal the bonus point for the Wildcats.
Next up for Swindon is a midweek home tie with the Peterborough Phantoms before another home tie on Saturday with the Sheffield Steeldogs. Tickets are on-sale for both games by visiting www.swindonwildcats.cloudvenue.co.uk or by visiting Wildcat Sports at the Link Centre.
Man of the Match:
Swindon Wildcats – Robin Kovar
Bracknell Bees – Alex Barker