The Bespoke Guardians Swindon Wildcats capped off a mammoth three games in three days with a huge 7-4 victory against the Raiders on Saturday night in Swindon. With other results going the way of the Wildcats it means that we’ve qualified for the Semi-Finals of the Autumn Cup.
Going into the week, Aaron Nell and his team faced a tough ask to go through knowing they’d need at least five points and other results to go their way to sneak into the final four. On Thursday evening we kicked off the triple header with a trip to Milton Keynes to take on the Lightning.
The hosts started the game in fast style taking the lead through Sean Norris within the opening minute of the game. However, the Cats bounced back a couple of minutes later through Jack Goodchild before a Tomasz Malasinski goal at 6:37 saw us head into the opening period break 1-2 to the good. In the second, the Wildcats continued to pile on the pressure and increased their lead by a further two goals. Firstly, Balint Pakozdi scored at 28:20 before just 41 seconds later Aaron Nell scored a superb shorthanded breakaway to make it 1-4.
Late in the second period the Wildcats began to allow MK back into the game by taking a few too many penalties. At 38:00 the pressure was too much and Bobby Chamberlain was able to reduce the deficit to 2-4 going into the final period. In the third period, the penalties continued to affect the visitors and Hallden Barnes-Garner reduced the gap to a single goal at 50:38. Within a minute the Lightning were level thanks to another superb goal from Sam Talbot. The game proved to be cagey from here on in, and despite Emil Svec hitting the crossbar with less than three seconds left, the game went to overtime. MK by far had the better overtime period and at 64:46 Leigh Jamieson was able to fire past Renny Marr to complete the comeback.
Going into Friday, the team headed to Basingstoke to take on the Bison. Dean Skinns got the nod between the pipes and with Sam Godfrey and Emil Svec missing from the line-up it was going to be a big effort to come away with the two points.
Thankfully, Swindon put the perfect amount of effort in and sealed a 3-0 shutout win on the road. After a scoreless first period, the first goal of the game was scored by Floyd Taylor at 30:34, before Chris Jones added a powerplay goal for the Wildcats at 31:57 to give us a 0-2 lead going into the third and final period.
The Bison knew to get something from the contest, they’d need to come out of the block flying and unfortunately, this didn’t happen. After just 34 seconds, player/coach Aaron Nell was on hand to put the game to bed by adding a third at 40:34. The remainder of the game was a case of defending the lead we’d built up and protecting the shut out for Dean Skinns which saw him receive the MOM award against his old team.
Coming into Saturday the Wildcats already had two games under their belt but it didn’t stop us putting another impressive performance in against a hard-working Raiders team.
The game couldn’t have started much faster with the Raiders scoring on their first shot on goal after just 18 seconds. Swindon then replied, by doing exactly the same thing with Floyd Taylor scoring on our first shot of the game at 1:21. Emil Svec, returning from a one-game suspension, then added his first of the night at 3:42.
Heading into the middle period, the Cats held the narrow 2-1 lead but the Raiders equalised through Jacob Ranson at 24:16. However, just over a minute later, Balint Pakozdi scored his first of the evening to give the Cats back the one-goal lead. Pakozdi added his second of the evening, on the powerplay, at 30:02. Before the middle period was over, the Wildcats added another goal through Emil Svec at 38:09 going into the final period of the weekend we held the 5-2 lead.
The story of the third period was when the Raiders pulled one back, the Wildcats almost immediately responded. At 41:59 JJ Pitchley cleared up a rebound from Renny Marr to bring them back within two before Emil Svec rounded off his hat-trick at 44:47. Again, Erik Piatak scored his second of the night at 45:38 before the final goal of the evening was added by Head Coach Aaron Nell at 47:59 to complete a 7-4 victory and sealing the Wildcats 5 points out of a possible 6 over the weekend.
On Sunday evening, whilst not playing, the Bees victory against the Basingstoke Bison was enough to secure our place in the top four of the Autumn Cup with the semi-finals yet to be decided. This coming weekend the league campaign kicks off with a home game against the Sheffield Steeldogs before heading to Shropshire on Sunday for a game with the Telford Tigers.