After a week away from the Swindon Ice Arena, the Wildcats returned to home ice to take on the Sheffield Steeldogs. Going into the contest missing four bodies in the shape of Nell, Buglass, Rutkis & Nethersell the home side were boosted with the home 'debuts' of both Ryan Aldridge & Matt Selby.
A slow start to the game saw the Wildcats tested early on with Donatas Kumeliauskas and Greg Wood forcing Lyle into big pad saves. The Wildcats opened the scoring at 8:48 when Tomasz Malasinski tapped the puck in from very close range when James Hadfield couldn't control a Jonas Höög slapshot. The Dogs came back into the game at 10:10 when Pavel Mrna broke down the left wing and fired the puck into the top left corner of Lyle's net on a shorthanded breakaway.
Swindon battled back again with Kyle Smith having a shot turned over the bar and out of play. At 12:52 a smart play by the home side saw them re-take the single goal advantage. Neil Liddiard fired a slapshot into traffic which Max Birbraer was able to put a stick on and deflect the puck past Hadfield. Sheffield began to carve a few more chances when Cole Shudra and Arnoldas Bosas both fired shots wide of the net. A magnificent diving stop from Stevie Lyle was enough to stop the Dogs equalising before two quick Sheffield goals saw them take the lead.
A goal mouth scramble caused havoc for the Cats defence and Liam Charnock was first to react to a loose puck and bring the Dogs level once again. Another flowing Dogs move allowed them to score their third of the night. Adrian Palak fed the puck back to the point and Tomas Brcko was able to wind up a shot which went through the legs of both Neil Liddiard and Stevie Lyle.
With just 6 seconds remaining in the period an off the puck incident saw Ryan Aldridge drop the gloves with Callum Pattison, the Dogs forward getting the better of the fight as the period came to a close with the home side a goal down.
The second period started perfectly for the Cats seeing them level the game up with just 18 seconds of the period gone. Jonas Höög fired a big slapshot from the blue-line which was deflected once by Tomasz Malasinski and then again and into the net by Sam Bullas. The game was more end to end in the second period and Sheffield created more clear cut chances which Stevie Lyle was needing to remain strong between the pipes. Greg Wood and Ashley Calvert both seeing shots go wide of the goal.
The Cats scored a massive goal at 37:28 when Tomasz Malasinski was fed the puck at the back door by Jonas Höög and tucked the puck in at the back door meaning the Wildcats converted on the man advantage, as the second period came to a close.
The final period was all Swindon, and at 42:37 the Cats scored their fifth goal of the evening. Tomasz Malasinski chased the puck into the corner and flicked the puck back to the stick of Jordan Kelsall who slammed the puck under the arm of Hadfield to double the Wildcats lead. Swindon found their scoring boots again at 44:22. Jonas Höög fired the puck towards the net which allowed Max Birbraer to tip the puck into the top corner of the net to give the Wildcats their sixth of the game.
As the game was coming to a close the Wildcats still had time to add to the score. At 54:49 the Cats pounced when a defensive mistake was punished by young Kyle Smith who found himself with all the time in the world to shoot into the top corner of the net. Smith nearly had a Howe hat-trick when he dropped the gloves with Thomas Barry, with the Wildcats forward landing the better punches as he took the win. The final buzzer sounded and the Cats had returned to winning ways with a 7-3 win.
Man of the Match:
Swindon Wildcats - Max Birbraer
Sheffield Steeldogs - Cole Shudra