Finnish replacement for Nicky Watt starts well

AFTER searching hard to find a British replacement for Nicky Watt, Swindon Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge had to resort to bringing in another import, Henri Sandvik, George Royle.

And with five imports now in their squad, they will have to work on a rotation basis as only four can play per game. Chris Jones also departed the Wildcats camp and headed back to play for Cardiff.

This made enough funds available to bring in Finnish forward, Sandvik. He has played a very high standard in his native Finland, and can offer a lot of physicality along with skill.

The Wildcats have also looked to the future by snapping up 17-year-old Oliver Betteridge from the Nottingham Panthers’ development team. He currently holds a place in the Great Britain U18 side and is a very exciting prospect.

Due to the adverse weather conditions last weekend before last, only one game was possible of the double-header between Swindon and Milton Keynes. The Wildcats emerged winners in a fantastic game of ice hockey in Buckinghamshire on Saturday.

The visitors got off to a phenomenal start, scoring four unanswered goals inside the first 12 minutes of the game. Aaron Nell bagged an early hat-trick, with the other goal coming from Jonas Hoog. Sandvik recorded his first point in a Wildcats shirt with an assist on the third goal as the first period ended 4-0.

An early second period goal from Matias Perkkio appeared to have sealed the game for Swindon. However, after the Wildcats took their foot off the gas, the Lightning capitalised and scored three in the second frame to make the score 5-3 heading to the final session.

A Milton Keynes goal with ten minutes remaining set up a very tense finale for both the Wildcats and their travelling support.

With just three seconds remaining of the thrilling encounter, Blaz Emersic was taken down on a breakaway, which meant he was awarded a penalty shot. Wildcats goaltender Thomas Murdy stood strong and saved, giving Swindon a hard-earned two points.

The addition of Sandvik is a vital for the Cats. Finding someone to replace Watt was always going to be a tough task, but this signing just goes to show how much desire the Cats' have for success this season.

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