Swindon Wildcats 5 - Hull Pirates 2
A brace from Robin Kovar helped Swindon Wildcats record a 5-2 victory at home to Hull Pirates.
Kovar pulled the hosts back from a horror start at the Link Centre after Lee Bonner had given Hull the lead inside 45 seconds.
However, second-period goals from Lee Richardson and Jonas Höög put the Cats in the driving seat heading into the final 20 minutes.
Ugnius Cizas reduced the deficit seven minutes into the third period before Kovar’s solo effort seven minutes from time all but put the game to bed before Max Birbraer scored into an empty net with five seconds remaining.
Swindon, who were missing Tomasz Malasinski from their roster, got off to a poor start, with Kovar heading for the bin inside 30 seconds for a boarding penalty on Tommi Laine.
That was further compounded just 17 seconds later when, on a delayed penalty after Stevie Whitfield was pinned for tripping, Andrej Themar dropped the puck back for Lee Bonner to fire over Stevie Lyle's left shoulder and found the roof of the net.
Swindon’s defence continued to be under the cosh in the early stages but were able to weather the storm a skipper Jan Kostal was the width of a post away from restoring parity in the 15th minute.
The hosts were able to get back level in the 17th minute when Kovar showed the determination to make amends for his early penalty and dispossess Jordan Stokes.
With just Vlastimil Lakosil to beat, the forward showed the composure required to side-step his fellow Czech national and steer the puck into the back of the net.
It was a scrappy second period of few opportunities for either side but Swindon were able to turn it on late to establish a two-goal advantage.
The first came in the 37th minute from a very apologetic looking Richardson, who saw his effort, assisted by Höög down the left, deflect past Lakosil and find its way into the far corner.
Lakosil was forced into a fine one-on-one save to deny Höög with less than a minute left on the clock but the Swede would make no mistake when he was presented with another opportunity seconds later by Toms Rutkis, finishing well in front of Hull’s net.
Swindon were able to hold onto their two-goal lead for seven minutes of the third period before Stevie Whitfield entered the bin for tripping and with the clock on his penalty winding down to zero, Cizas was afforded too much time down the left and he found the top shelf.
Skipper Jan Kostal looked to restore the hosts’ advantage when we was invited to shoot from the right and his effort struck the right upright of Lakosil's goal.
However, in the 54th minute, Swindon were back with a two-goal cushion when Kovar was afforded too much space in the centre of the ice and he hit the puck straight and found the roof of the net.
The frame of Lakosil’s goal came to Hull’s rescue again in the 56th minute when Höög worked his way down the ice before his shot cannoned off the crossbar.
Hull also went within the width of the crossbar to pulling another goal back a minute later when Andrej Themar saw his bullet deflected by Lyle.
With Hull pulling their netminder for the last two minutes, it was a frantic end to proceedings and after Kovar and Lyle both went close, it was Birbraer who got the final goal as he fired into an empty net.