Sunday evening saw the Swindon Wildcats complete their three game weekend with a trip to Milton Keynes to take on the Thunder. It would be another crucial game both for league points but also for points in the NIHL South Cup, as we edge ever closer to the conclusion of the qualifying rounds.
With both Adam Harding and Floyd Taylor side-lined the Wildcats travelled to MK with a couple of their more influential forwards out of the line-up. However, it would be the hero of last weekend, Chris Jones, who fired home three goals in a 5-1 win.
The opening period got underway and the hosts probably had the better of the opening spells, Jamie Line and Tomas Rubes both testing Renny Marr early on. At the other end of the ice with the ever formidable Jordan Lawday in the pipes the Cats knew they’d have their work cut out to break the deadlock.
However, at 11:57 they got their noses in front. After just 17 seconds on the powerplay Max Birbraer was able to feed a puck to Chris Jones who blasted the puck under the sliding pads of Lawday to make it 0-1. Less than a minute later, the visitors had cut doubled their lead thanks to Eddie Bebris.
After the initial shot from Toms Rutkis was saved by Lawday the puck rolled straight to the stick of Bebris whose one-time effort flew into the top left corner of the net to make it 0-2.
Into the second period and the Thunder were beginning to create and test Marr more. Gareth O’Flaherty and Rio Grinnell-Parke both saw their shots go agonizingly close to the net before at 31.14 they had reduced the deficit back to one.
Stevie Whitfield was caught on the blue-line as the puck found its way to Michael Stratford who moved around the other D man and slid the puck under Marr and into the back of the net. The middle period would end at 1-2 to the Cats and the game was finely poised going to the final stanza.
The Wildcats were pressing to increase their lead again, with Loris Taylor and Jan Kostal both seeing their efforts turned away by Lawday. At 48:31 his defence was breached again. Tyler Plews fired a big slapshot in on goal and Aaron Nell was on hand to get the vital tip to take it past Lawday and make it 1-3.
At 52:00 Chris Jones then was able to get his second goal of the evening after being set up by Toms Rutkis the Welsh forward was able to find just enough room at the back door to score the Wildcats fourth of the night.
Finally, at 58:13 he was able to seal his hat-trick with another powerplay goal. Aaron Nell and Max Birbraer combining to provide him with the puck which he was able to slam home and seal a 1-5 victory for the Wildcats.
Attentions now turn to Friday night where we look to secure our place in the Autumn Cup Final against the Sheffield Steeldogs.
MOM: #71 Edgars Bebris