Wildcats shock Manchester Phoenix at Link Centre
11:14pm Monday 4th February 2013 in Sport
IT WAS a mixed weekend for the Swindon Wildcats, as they demolished the Manchester Phoenix at home on Saturday, but fell agonisingly to the Bracknell Bees on the road 24 hours later, writes George Royle.
Swindon got off to a flying start against third-placed Manchester at the Link Centre on Saturday, scoring with little more than a minute into the game through recent signing Ollie Betteridge.
The Phoenix responded midway through the first period with Czech Robert Schnabel firing home impressively.
Another recent recruit, the phenomenal Henri Sandvik, scored for the Wildcats with a few minutes remaining in the first period to send the teams to the locker rooms with the score at 2-1.
From the start of the second period, the Wildcats took control and scored four unanswered goals.
Tomas Fojtik scored the lone second-period goal with a fearsome slapshot. The final period was one of total domination for the Cats, with Betteridge bagging his second of the night early in the period. Despite not making the final cut for the Great Britain Olympic qualifying squad, Cats captain Aaron Nell played a fantastic game and was rewarded with two goals in the final frame to complete a famous 6-1 victory against a high-flying Phoenix side.
On Sunday, the Cats travelled to 'The Hive' to take on the Bracknell Bees. Swindon fell behind to two early goals, but managed to pull it back with strikes from Sandvik and Nell.
It was a tight game, with both sides exchanging decent goal scoring opportunities.
The Bees took a 3-2 lead early in the second session, but once again the Cats responded in a positive manner, with Betteridge continuing his good run of scoring form.
Late in the second period, Swindon went ahead for the first time when Nell got his second of the night, calmly slotting past Carl Ambler on the break.
Closing out games when in front has been a problem for the Cats all season – and was so again, with the Bees coming from behind to snatch a thrilling 5-4 victory.
Swindon currently sit sixth in the league table with 42 points, holding a solid play-off position. But they need to push on in the latter half of the campaign to try and gain a better play-off seeding come the end of March.
The recent additions of Betteridge and Sandvik have been great ones by Head Coach Ryan Aldridge, while the influential import Matias Perkkio has yet to return, having recently returned home to Finland for family reasons.