Swindon began their EPL campaign on Saturday evening with the visit of the playoff champions Guildford Flames. Swindon were boosted with the return of Aaron Nell and Tomasz Malasinski was making his first appearance this season at the Link Centre.
Guildford came out of the gates flying and with the first shot of the game took the lead. Ben Campbell rushed down the right wing and his wristshot sneaked in above Lyle's shoulder at 0:16. The Cats were rattled and Guildford had further chances quickly through Matic Kralj & Tom Duggan. Swindon began to settle as the period moved on and were starting to create chances of their own. First Jan Kostal had a shot deflected by Richard Ullberg out of play, and then Jonas Hoog nearly converted for Swindon.
The Wildcats got their goal at 9:54, Jan Kostal fired a strong slapshot which was initially saved before Kyle Smith slammed home the rebound for his first of the EPL season. As the period was coming to a close the Flames saw a shot clang off the crossbar and was cleared from danger by Neil Liddiard. The buzzer closed on the first with the game tied at one.
The second period the Flames started brightly again and regained their two goal lead at 23:03 when Jez Lundin finished off a good passing move and converted at the back door. Instant chaos as Swindon went up the other end and had a goal ruled out for it crossing the line after the whistle had gone. Tomasz Malasinski had a great chance turned away by Ullberg before at 31:53 the Wildcats levelled.
The draw wouldn't last too long and at 34:55 the Flames took the lead again, Ben Campbell found some room behind the Cats D men and moved the puck past Lyle and into a gap between the pad and post for a 2-3 lead. Despite Swindon having some late chances on the powerplay they couldn't convert and the second ended with the Wildcats a single goal down.
The Cats started the third quicker and created an early chance through Ben Davies, but again the Flames were able to capitalise quickly. With Lyle stranded the puck made its way back to Marcus Kristoffersson who was able to fire into the gaping net at 44:22. The Flames created a few more chances as we headed into the final ten minutes of the game but at 52:26 the Cats got a lifeline.
Jonas Hoog was able to find Jan Kostal at the back door of the net and the Cats captain wasted no time in slamming the puck into the back of the net to bring the Cats back within one goal. With Rupert Quiney taking a poorly timed penalty at 57:30 the home side were given a golden chance to convert with the extra man.
Swindon threw everything on Guildford and in particular Richard Ullberg who was blocking shots brilliantly despite a tremendous amount of Cats pressure. Unfortunately Swindon the clock went to zero and the Flames had won the opening battle of the season by a narrow 3-4 scoreline.