Match report

Swindon
4 - 2
Bracknell Bees

After what felt like a long summer, the lights were raised at 6:15 for the start of another exciting season of ice hockey at the Better Link Centre. Up first for the Wildcats were a Bracknell side who had re-grouped over the summer under new player/coach Scott Spearing. Having signed the returning faces such as James Galazzi, Shaun Thompson and Harvey Stead the Bees were lining up alongside new faces to the roster such as Steve Osman, George Norcliffe and the ever-threatening Frantisek Bakrlik. Referee Tim Pickett pulled the face-off in, and the 2017/2018 season was underway.

 

Surprisingly for a pre-season challenge game, the contest sparked straight into life with some hard-skating early shifts from both sides really setting the tone for the remainder of the evening. Fast, physical hockey. It would be the Bees who took first blood, with Ben Nethersell sitting a penalty Matt Foord was on hand to open the scoring for the evening. Josh Tetlow and Frantisek Bakrlik combined in the corner with the Czech import finding room to throw a puck back into the high house ready for Matt Foord to come in off the blue-line and fire past Renny Marr in the Cats net.

 

The remainder of the first period was end to end hockey, the Cats going close first through Chris Jones before Jordan Kelsall had a shot well blocked by Danny Milton in-between the pipes for the Bees. The lead wouldn’t last long, as two quick-fire Swindon goals saw them take a 2-1 lead into the first period break. Firstly, Max Birbraer fed a puck to the wing where Luc Johnson was on hand to fire his shot through a line of traffic and past a screened Milton to tie the game up. At 11.03 the home side took the lead, Jordan Kelsall linked up with new arrival Sam Zajac with the former on hand to fire a low pass across goal to an on-rushing Kyle Smith who could convert past a sprawling Milton.

 

The Wildcats came out even faster in the middle period and were quickly in their stride again. Aaron Nell, Jan Kostal and Toms Rutkis all had opportunities in the period to extend the Wildcats lead, but no-one had enough killer instinct to get the extra goal. The Bees began to find a bit of rhythm with the likes of Alex Barker, Shaun Thompson and Luke Jackson all forced saves of Renny Marr, who’d steadied the ship after conceding on the first powerplay of the season earlier in the match.


At the halfway point in the period the Cats were able to extend their lead once more. With Jan Bendik in the box, Ben Nethersell decided he’d go his own when he picked the puck up along the boards and chipped his shot over the shoulder of Milton.

 

A contentious moment followed later in the period when Frantisek Bakrlik took a big slapshot and pointed it towards goal. Unfortuntatley for swindon the puck found it’s way to the twine and despite conversations with his goal judge Tim Pickett was happy to award the goal and bring the Bees back within one.

 

Moments later, Jordan Kelsall produced the goal of the evening when he fired a shot from a tight angle in the corner which ripped into the top left corner of the net. The powerplay marker ensured the Cats would take a 4-2 lead going into the third.

 

Despite the 2 goal lead the Cats remained very focused on getting the job done. Compared to the normal games, the third period proved to be a tough one for all involved with the fitness levels still not at the highest point. That said, both sides went close with Sam Bullas hitting the post for the home side before Shaun Thompson broke down the other end of the ice to only see his shot saved by Renny Marr.

 

As the final buzzer sounded it was a performance Aaron Nell could be proud of, before his troops head to Bracknell on Sunday (Sept 3rd) for the return fixture. The next home game will be our second challenge game against the Peterborough Phantoms on Saturday 9th September. CLICK HERE to buy tickets!

Timeline
10:18 Luc Johnson
+ Max Birbraer
Goal
11:03 Kyle Smith
+ Jordan Kelsall
+ Sam Zajac
Goal
30:41 Ben Nethersell
+ Sam Bullas
+ Toms Rutkis
Goal
38:06 Jordan Kelsall
+ Jan Kostal
+ Sam Zajac
Goal

@SWINWILDCATS