After a tough loss in Peterborough on Sunday evening the Wildcats returned to home ice where they took on the Guildford Flames in a repeat of the opening night of the EPL season. The Cats went into the game without Ollie Stone or Toms Rutkis whilst Guildford were missing the duo of Andy Melachrino & Sam Godfrey.
The Flames started brightly and tested Stevie Lyle early on with Tom Duggan and Ben Campbell forcing the Welsh netminder into some big glove saves. Jonas Höög then had a shot deflected out of play by the blocker of Joonas Kuusela in the Guildford net. At 5:49 the Flames scored their first of the game. Some good powerplay movement enabled Marek Maslonka to tap the puck home from close range, despite lengthy discussions with the referee the powerplay goal stood.
Swindon bounced back nearly immediately, at 7:29 some good work on the forecheck allowed Tomasz Malasinski to cut inside and fire shot on net. Kuusela got some of the shot but was unable to prevent it trickling over the line. The Flames powerplay was proving to be lethal and at 10:51 they converted on their second opportunity.
Jez Lundin and Matic Kralj linked up well along the point and the shot made its way to Danny Meyers who skated in and fired into the empty net. The Cats then had their first chance on the powerplay of the night, and were also able to convert on their first opportunity. The trio of Aaron Nell, Jonas Höög and Tomasz Malasinski cycled the puck well and the Wildcats player coach fired a shot from the blue-line into the top corner of the net. The first period came to a close with the Cats outshooting the Flames 9-7.
The second period started in similar fashion to the first, the Flames tested Lyle early on through Danny Meyers & Marcus Kristoffersson before they did get the goal ahead goal at 25:22. Ben Campbell broke down the right wing and slid a pass to Matic Kralj who sped towards the slot and tipped the puck up over the shoulder of Lyle into the corner of the net. The further assist on the goal going to Kevin Phillips.
The Cats settled down and went close through Jan Kostal but the Czech captain couldn't find a way past the pads of Kuusela. At 35:42 the Flames doubled their lead, Kralj and Eriksson turned provider for Danny Meyers. The British D man flew in from the point and fired a massive shot past Lyle to make the score 2-4.
As the period dwindled down the Cats were struggling to get much offence going, a lot of broken plays and mis-timed shots. In the final minute of the game the Cats got it to click. The dangerous offence suddenly turned lethal as they scored two goals in 33 seconds. Firstly, Jan Kostal danced through the centre of the ice and slid the puck under the legs of Kuusela to bring the Cats within one. The assists on the goal going to Aaron Nell and Jonas Höög.
At 39:50 the Cats tied the game. Aaron Nell sped in from the right wing, cut around a defender and put the puck past Joonas Kuusela to send the home crowd wild. The assists on the goal being given to Mark Smith and Max Birbraer, as the game went into the final period tied at 4.
The Cats started the final period strongly and quickly took the lead for the first time in the game. A lovely flowing move saw Max Birbraer slide the puck over to Aaron Nell who fired in at the back post and completed his birthday hat-trick at 43:25. The Flames quickly equalised again when Jens Eriksson fired a lovely wristshot off the bottom off the crossbar and past Stevie Lyle at 43:22.
Guildford kept pushing and they took the lead yet again at 49:09. A speedy move down the right wing and Marek Maslonka was able to fire into the top corner of the net and give the visitors the lead again. Swindon didn't back down and tied the game up yet again at 52:46 when a big slapshot from Mark Smith cannoned off the netminder and looped over into the back of the net. The Cats didn't stop there, the goal gave them added momentum and at 54:07. A proper powerplay move allowed Tomasz Malasinski to tap the puck in at the back door with the assists going to Jonas Höög and Aaron Nell to seal the Cats seventh goal of the evening.
Some late rough play saw Marcus Kristoffersson and Sam Bullas both be thrown out of the game but the important headline was the result and the Wildcats had sealed a 7-6 win to complete their sixth consecutive home victory.
Man of the Match
Swindon Wildcats – Aaron Nell
Guildford Flames – Danny Meyers