ICE HOCKEY: Wildcats set for fine late season flourish

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Alex Symonds of  Swindon Wildcats scored a rare goal over the weekend. Picture: Nicky Pearce Alex Symonds of Swindon Wildcats scored a rare goal over the weekend. Picture: Nicky Pearce

THE Swindon Wildcats registered their first four-point weekend since mid-October after recording two wins against rivals Sheffield, writes George Royle.

Saturday night saw a large crowd packed into the Swindon Ice Arena to see the Cats take on the Steeldogs in what was set to be a feisty encounter.

The Wildcats got off to a dream start and gained a two-goal lead within the opening five minutes through Aaron Nell and Ryan Watt.

Swindon looked a completely different team to that of recent weeks and Jan Kostal and Henri Sandvik quickly linked up twice to give the home side a commanding 4-0 lead.

Czech forward Kostal, in a fine run of form, completed his hat-trick in the second period to help the Cats carry a 6-0 lead into the locker rooms with a period left to play.

Sheffield finally got on the scoreboard late in the final frame, with Greg Chambers firing home. Kostal then sealed a great night for himself and the team by scoring his fourth and the team's eighth. Swindon would have been happy to grab the two points, but an 8-1 scoreline made it a phenomenal performance from everyone involved.

In the return game on Sunday in Sheffield, verbals were exchanged between the players in warm-ups. Inside the first minute, some big hits were exchanged as well as two fights being contested. The crowd were in for an exciting evening of hockey in Yorkshire!

It was the Steeldogs' turn to come out of the blocks early as they raced into a 2-0 lead and maintained it through the first 20 minutes of play.

Who did the Cats look to for their first goal of the night? That man Kostal, as he popped up for his fifth goal of the weekend. Welshman Alex Symonds added a rare goal to give the visitors a deserved equaliser which set up an intriguing final stanza.

Great Britain U20 international Floyd Taylor gave Swindon their first lead of the night, but Sheffield replied within 20 seconds.

The dynamic partnership of Nell and Jonas Hoog came together to give the Wildcats a late lead, with the latter slotting home from close range. The Steeldogs worked hard and managed to take the game to overtime.

A goalless overtime meant penalty shots and Hoog and Watt were both successful to give the visitors a massive victory on the road.

The Wildcats seem to be coming into form just at the right time.

With the likes of Kostal, Sandvik, Hoog and Nell playing some great hockey together, the only way is up for Swindon now.

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