ICE HOCKEY: Wildcats' fine form is enough to scare play-off rivals
Updated 4:57pm Tuesday 18th March 2014 in Sport
THE phenomenal run of form for the Swindon Wildcats continued when they were victorious on both Saturday and Sunday for the second straight week, writes George Royle.
Saturday night saw the new league leaders Manchester Phoenix roll into the Swindon Ice Arena in front of a packed crowd.
The Wildcats managed to get on the scoreboard first as some nice puck retention on the powerplay led to Aaron Nell firing home from the blue line with seven minutes gone.
Despite lots of chances being created by both sides, two impressive goalies stood strong to ensure the second stanza ended goalless.
A huge moment came with ten minutes remaining as Sam Smith tapped in a rebound to give the Cats a two-goal cushion. It was awarded in controversial fashion as several Manchester players felt a penalty should have gone in their favour prior to the goal.
Swindon held out to record a very impressive shut-out against arguably the league's best side. Final score: 2-0.
Head coach Ryan Aldridge got his tactics spot on and his side deserved the win.
On Sunday, the Cats travelled to Bracknell to face the Bees. After an entertaining but scoreless first 20 minutes the visitors managed to break the deadlock through Lee Richardson.
A solid defensive effort from Swindon secured the two points and their fourth straight league victory. Final score: 1-0.
Welsh netminder Stevie Lyle now has three straight shut-outs to his name – a remarkable effort.
He has conceded just two goals in his last 136 shots faced. When in that kind of form Lyle gives his side the chance to beat any team.
A lot of teams in the league will now be hoping to avoid playing the in-form Wildcats in the play-offs.
They are a team playing with confidence and, given the talent in the side, are a pretty scary prospect.
Forward Jan Kostal has agreed a new deal that will keep him at the Swindon Ice Arena until the end of the 2014-15 season.