SWINDON Wildcats signed their season off in style as they clinched a cup double at the Link Centre.
After winning the Autumn Cup earlier this season, the Cats have now added the NIHL National Cup following their 6-4 aggregate win over Sheffield Steeldogs.
With the score locked at 2-2 after the opening leg in Sheffield last Wednesday, Swindon turned on the style in front of a packed Link Centre, as they registered a 4-2 win much to the delight of player-coach Aaron Nell.
“I’m delighted for the players, it was difficult after we had such a long time off,” he said.
“I think this was our 18th game in this competition, so it is very difficult to win. I am just so happy for the boys.
“We started great, we went 4-0 up on aggregate and then they (Sheffield) were able to get a couple of quick ones in the second period.
“We started to tire, but when you haven’t played for two and a half weeks, it is difficult.
“We hung on like we have for the majority of the season to get the win.
“Everything changed in the summer and that helped us but the attitude of the players has been great this year.
Swindon got off to an ideal start as they took a 2-0 lead in the first period of the evening.
Five minutes in, Nell broke the deadlock to hand Swindon the advantage on the night and in the overall tie as they led 3-2 on aggregate.
The Cats then doubled their advantage five minutes later, as skipper Jan Kostal registered Swindon’s second.
The second period was a manic one as goals from Chris Jones and Floyd Taylor put Swindon four goals up with 30 minutes left to play.
Player-coach Nell among others had a number of chances to put Swindon in an unassailable lead, but they found themselves pegged back as the Steeldogs got two goals of their own.
The first came 14 seconds after Taylor’s strike as Liam Charnock found a way past the impressive Marr, while James Spurr got the second for the Sheffield side as they chipped away at Swindon’s lead.
In the third, Sheffield had a goal chalked off for a shove on Marr, while the netminder was at the centre of the action with five minutes to go as he denied Spurr’s penalty shot, after Neil Liddiard hauled down the forward while clean through.
Swindon did have chances, Nell couldn’t quite get on the end of Max Birbraer’s pass at the back stick, while it was a similar story for Edgars Bebris who couldn’t make contact with Hill’s pass.
In a late attempt to swing momentum, the Steeldogs pulled their netminder but it was too late as the home side held their nerve to claim the prize.