Wildcats 3 - Phantoms 4

Saturday night saw another packed crowd at the Better Link Centre with the visit of Peterborough Phantoms. Our second pre-season weekend saw a home and away weekend against the Phantoms. The Wildcats were boosted with the addition of OHA trio; Mikey Power, Harvey Robson & Deakan Fielder. Alongside these three there was a Wildcats debut for Joseph Hazeldine. The Phantoms themselves were missing a couple of names including Darius Pliskauskas & Adam Long. As Stephen Matthews pulled the boys in for the opening puck drop the game was underway.

The game started quickly, both sides had good shifts on the puck early on. The Phantoms testing Matt Smital through a flowing move by former Wildcats forward Owen Griffiths. At the other end of the ice the Cats were creating their own chances. Corvus Travel sponsored Sam Zajac was able to fire a big slapshot towards goal but Dan Lane was better to it. Unfortunately for Swindon, at 4:25 they fell behind. Tom Norton broke down the left wing and found himself on a two-on-one, the Phantoms D man fed a pass across goal to Will Weldon who was able to tuck the puck under the Mobile Motoring Maintenance sponsored Matt Smital for a 0-1 lead.

The Cats again were able to put pressure on the Phantoms D, with shots coming from all over the offensive zone. Sam Bullas, Floyd Taylor and Max Birbraer all had chances saved, with Joseph Hazeldine also showing off his rocket of a shot from the point on multiple occasions.

The second period proved a tough one for Swindon, the opening 10 minutes they struggled to get their game going and struggled to carve out clear cut scoring chances as they had in the first. Almost instantly, at 20:50 the Phantoms had doubled their advantage. An awkward deflection in front of goal saw the puck land on the tape of James Ferrara who was able to fire home into the empty net with Smital stranded. A truly unfortunate goal to concede at the start of the period. The Phantoms had their tails up now and at 26:03 they made it 0-3.

A cross ice pass from Glenn Billing was collected by Nathan Salem who had the speed to get around the defence and break through on goal. He went all the way around the back of the net and pulled of a lovely move to wraparound the net and tuck the puck in. Aaron Nell called his timeout and the games momentum would begin to change. Jack Peacock replaced Dan Lane between the pipes at the 30 minute mark.

The last seven minutes of the second was all Swindon, they were beginning to carve out the chances as they had in the first.  At 35:04 they finally got themselves on the scoresheet. Sam Zajac and Jan Kostal combined to find Toms Rutkis whose initial shot was saved by Peacock only for the rebound to fall straight back to the Cats forward who tucked it into the net.

The third period started much like the second had ended, the Wildcats were creating better chances with Aaron Nell seeing his shot turned over by Peacock before the Cats found themselves on a powerplay. The same duo linked up in Zajac and Kostal with the extra man, this time they fed a pass to Phil Hill in the middle of the ice who pivoted and fired the puck between the legs of Peacock bringing the home side back within one.

At the other end of the ice the Phantoms were still testing the hosts, Nathan Salem and Ales Padelek driving at the net with both being denied by Smital. At 55:36, the Wildcats got the game level. Phil Hill and Max Birbraer linked up well to fire the puck along the ice to Chris Jones who fired a massive one-time shot into the back of the net to give him his third goal in as many games for the Wildcats.

With the game destined to go to overtime, there was enough time for just one more goal. Unfortunately for Swindon, this went the way of the Phantoms. With just 21s left on the clock, Owen Griffiths was able to turn provider for Ales Padelek who shot the puck past Smital ensuring the visitors went away 3-4 victors.

Man Of The Match:

Swindon Wildcats – Sam Zajac (sponsored by Corvus Travel)

Peterborough Phantoms – Taylor Romeo