In the middle of a rich run of form the Swindon Wildcats headed to Bretton for their second visit to Peterborough of the season. The Wildcats, having lost 6-1 on their previous visit were looking to get some revenge on the Phantoms. The Cats went into the contest still without the side-lined Toms Rutkis, but Jordan Kelsall stepped in from the OHA academy. The Phantoms had the biggest boost they could have had with the return to fitness of the influential Janis Auzins between the pipes.
Both sides started the contest well, Peterborough had an early chance swallowed up by Stevie Lyle in net for the away side, before Tomasz Malasinski danced around the defence but his shot went agonizingly wide of the post. At 10:05 the Phantoms opened the scoring. Wehebe Darge and Ben Russell cycled the puck well in the corner before Owen Griffiths was on hand to pounce on a loose puck in front of the net and slide the puck over the line.
At 15:24 they’d doubled their lead. In what was almost identical circumstances to the first goal. Owen Griffiths again involved, this time he turned provider. Some more strong work along the boards allowed the former Wildcat forward to force Lyle into a good save, which Wehebe Darge was able to slam in the rebound after being first to react to the puck.
The Cats called their time-out and settled down for the remainder of the period, they began to pass the puck quicker and Max Birbraer had a glorious chance he unfortunately couldn’t force past Janis Auzins, who was showing everyone what he does at his best. Tomasz Malasinski was awarded a 2+10 penalty for checking from behind but the Cats were able to kill off the first period and look to regroup in the period break.
The middle period had good and bad points for the Cats, whilst chasing the game they found themselves in a bit of penalty trouble conceding 5 minor penalties in the period, as well as giving up two, five-on-three opportunities. The good thing from the Wildcats perspective was they were able to kill of each and every one of them and at times with fair amounts of ease. The Cats did manage to force some scoring chances themselves, Tomasz Malasinski and Jonas Höög broke through but the Swedish import was well stopped by the pads of Auzins.
The Cats third line were also carving out openings but they were unable to finish the moves off, Floyd Taylor putting his shot wide of the far post and just out of reach of the on rushing Adam Finlinson. Peterborough with all the powerplays were forcing Lyle into some good saves with Darius Pliskauskas, Tom Norton and Petr Stepanek all creating goal scoring chances with the extra man. With one last kill of an Aaron Nell penalty the Wildcats went into the second break also a goal down.
Swindon needed a big push in their final period of the weekend and knew the next goal would be the all-important one. Max Birbraer and Aaron Nell linked up but the Wildcats player-coach found his shot well blocked by Ben Russell and the puck moved out of play. Darius Pliskauskas again tested Stevie Lyle from close range but the Welsh netminder was better too it once more. After what seemed like an eternity of trying at 56:09 the Wildcats got their goal. Tomasz Malasinski set up Jonas Höög who from a tight angle was able to squeeze the puck under the pads of Auzins and into the back of the net, to set up a brilliant finish to a tight contest.
Agonizingly for Swindon, the Phantoms had one more trick up their sleeve. Knowing that Swindon would push forward and commit bodies they were able to sit back and attack the Cats on the rush. When the trio of Darius Pliskauskas, Wehebe Darge & Marc Levers found themselves with a three on one breakout the writing seemed to be on the cards. The Lithuanian sniper slowed his play down, moved the puck around Lyle and lifted it into the roof of the net to seal the 3-1 victory for the home side.
Swindon thus suffering their first regulation loss in four weeks and seeing an end to a fine run of form over the last four weeks.
Man of The Match:
Peterborough Phantoms – Janis Auzins
Swindon Wildcats – Neil Liddiard