THE Swindon Wildcats maintained their place in the play-off picture after defeating the Slough Jets on Sunday, but they couldn't prevent a loss to Basingstoke 24 hours earlier, writes George Royle.
On Saturday night in Basingstoke, Aaron Connolly opened the scoring for the hosts with just two minutes on the clock. The Cats responded through the potent partnership of Jonas Hoog and Aaron Nell, with the latter firing home a slapshot to record his 21st goal of the campaign.
Despite Cats goalie Stevie Lyle being very busy, the first period ended with the score tied at 1-1.
Basingstoke restored their one-goal lead early in the second stanza, but the Wildcats continued to battle and grabbed a deserved equaliser midway through the game when Sam Bullas buried a rebound with assists coming from Jan Kostal and Aku Pekkarinen.
The visitors were dealt a blow when Hoog was given a match penalty following an illegal hit, but the game was nicely poised at 2-2 going into the third period.
During a nervy final frame, the Cats suffered another setback when Joe Greener scored for Basingstoke with just five minutes left to give his side the two points.
On Sunday night the Wildcats welcomed Slough to the Swindon Ice Arena. The home side flew out of the blocks and created some brilliant chances early on.
Nell broke the deadlock late on in the first and if it wasn't for the Jets' Croatian goalie Andrej Vasilijevic, the Cats' one-goal lead could have been a lot more.
Slough have gone through some hard times off the ice this season, but they put up a spirited performance and tied the game up to conclude a very average second period of hockey.
Bullas and Kostal then injected some life into the game, as they scored five minutes apart to give Swindon a commanding 3-1 lead in the final period.
Ryan Webb restored some hope in the Jets camp when pulling a goal back, before the Wildcats managed to absorb some late pressure to grab a much-needed win.
The Wildcats now have a major chance to consolidate their league position as they play their next four games at home.