After a narrow loss in Basingstoke on Boxing Day, the Wildcats returned to home ice for the return fixture against the Bison. With the Boxing Day game being a quite physical affair the packed out crowd at the Swindon Ice Arena were in for a treat.
The Cats started strongly and were finishing their hits from the opening puck drop. They quickly settled into their strides and tested Tomas Hiadlovsky early on. Jonas Höög fed the puck to Sam Bullas who nearly tucked home at the back post. At the other end of the ice Derek Roehl anf Aaron Connolly were both denied brilliantly by Stevie Lyle.
8:57 the Cats found their first goal of the night. Jonas Höög shot the puck from the point and Tomasz Malasinski tipped the puck into the top corner of the net. The Cats continued to pile on the big hits with the line of Birbraer, Kostal and Hill causing havoc.
The middle period was 20 minutes of top quality netminding, both Stevie Lyle & Tomas Hiadlovsky pulling off unbelievable saves all period long. Tomas Karpov and Aaron Connolly linked up well and found Rene Jarolin who forced a great pad save from Lyle.
At 26:26 the Wildcats were able to double their advantage, Tomasz Malasinski broke down the left wing and fired a shot through the nearside of Tomas Hiadlovsky and into the back of the Bison net. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice Kurt Reynolds had a long range drive turned away by Lyle just before a Ciaran Long effort was swallowed up from close range.
The final period of the game was a more even affair. The Bison came out flying and with a couple of early powerplay chances were able to send a lot of rubber towards the net of Lyle. Rene Jarolin, Aaron Connolly and Vanya Antonov all had efforts deflected out of play and to safety by the Cats netminder. Jonas Höög nearly had a chance to feed Phil Hill but the stick of Joe Baird was enough to block the move.
The shutout was breached at 56:45 when a Ciaran Long shot found its way past Lyle, who'd been well screened with the Bison having two extra players thanks to Tomasz Malasinski & Jonas Höög in the penalty box. Pushing for the tying goal the Bison pulled Hiadlovsky in favour of the extra man and the plan backfired.
Tomasz Malasinski was fed the puck by Jonas Höög, the Polish international had the entire goal to aim for and wasted no opportunity to seal the 3-1 win and his hat-trick. Man of the match went to Stevie Lyle, who had a superb night between the pipes.