Boxing Day saw the Swindon Wildcats return to EPL action after their Christmas break. A visit to Basingstoke was on the cards and the visiting Cats were helped by the return to fitness with Kyle Smith but were still missing other players including Matt Selby, Toms Rutkis & Ollie Stone.
The opening period would prove to be quite frantic with good chances falling at both ends of the ice. Early on, Tomasz Malasinski had a great chance turned around the post by Tomas Hiadlovsky before the rebound was unable to be converted by Phil Hill. At the other end of the ice, Derek Roehl and Ciaran Long linked up but the ex-Swindon junior’s shot went past the post.
At 6:54 the hosts did manage to open the scoring. A Stuart Mogg effort was denied by Lyle before the puck fell to the stick of Vanya Antonov who fired the puck home from close range. The Bison created more chances the longer they were on the powerplay with Rene Jarolin & Aaron Connolly both going close for the home side. As the first period came to a close the Bison held a narrow single goal lead.
The second period was equally cagey. Jonas Höög had a good chance for Swindon in the opening few minutes of the middle stanza. At the other end of the ice the Bison were beginning to test Lyle again. Vanya Antonov had another chance to skate through the Swindon defence but was superbly stopped by Mark Smith & Ben Nethersell, who was having a superb game on the blue-line. Derek Roehl again had the best chance of the period with his effort cannoning off the crossbar and out of play.
The final period would have all the goals in it. At 46:11 the Cats got their name on the scoresheet. A wonderful pass from Phil Hill was picked up by Jan Kostal, the Cats captain skated forward and fired a big slapshot through Hiadlovsky and into the back of the Basingstoke net. Despite getting level, it wouldn’t be long until the Cats were behind again.
At 49.54 a well-crafted move finally saw Derek Roehl get his name on the scoresheet with a fine tipped effort in front of net. With the assists going to the defensive duo of Kurt Reynolds & Joe Baird. Before long the Bison had doubled their lead. Tomas Karpov was the man who found room at the side of the net to find a narrow gap between the nearside post and Stevie Lyle.
With the game dwindling away, the Wildcats used their timeout and decided to pull Stevie Lyle. At 59:43 the moment that will be etched in the memory of nearly all the Wildcats fans and players in attendance. The puck made its way out to the wing where Ben Nethersell was able to fire the puck past Hiadlovsky and bring the game back within a single goal.
Unfortunately for Swindon the final buzzer sounded on another close game of EPL hockey.
Man Of The Match:
Basingstoke Bison – Ciaran Long
Swindon Wildcats – Phil Hill