ICE HOCKEY: Scintillating Swindon face Lightning in play-offs
4:58pm Tuesday 25th March 2014 in Sport
THE surging Swindon Wildcats won their final two matches of the regular season to extend their winning streak to seven. In doing so, the Wiltshire side sealed a play-off quarter-final with the Milton Keynes Lightning, writes George Royle.
On Saturday, the injury-struck Basingstoke Bison travelled to the Swindon Ice Arena. It was a game that the home side controlled from the first minute to the last. Lee Richardson put his name on the scoresheet early on for the Wildcats, before Aaron Nell scored from range to give his side a convincing 2-0 lead after one period.
Scottish forward Ryan Watt put the puck in the net following a goalmouth scramble to record the only goal of the second frame.
In a physical and edgy final stanza, the Wildcats opted to pull Stevie Lyle in order to give Michael Crisp some ice time. Despite making some solid saves, Crisp was beaten in the final minutes, making it a 3-1 victory for Ryan Aldridge’s men.
A blast down the M4 welcomed the Cats on Sunday as they travelled to the Hangar to try and ground the Slough Jets.
Jan Kostal, who recently penned a deal to return to the Link Centre next season, opened the scoring for the visitors. Slough replied immediately, but Aaron Nell ensured his side led after 20 minutes.
The Wildcats had a spring in their step and exploded in the second period. Goals from Sam Bullas (2), Aku Pekkarinen, Sam Smith and Adam Harding gave the visitors a huge 7-2 lead heading into the final period.
Welshman Harding netted his second of the night to cap a great 8-2 victory and a phenomenal weekend for the title-chasing Cats.
Despite beating the Wildcats on several occasions this season, Milton Keynes would undoubtedly prefer to be playing another team in the quarter finals.
Swindon are in scintillating form and are playing their best hockey of the season by far.
It will be home advantage for the Wildcats on Saturday in the first leg before they face the Lightning on the road on Sunday in their bid to book a place at Coventry for the finals weekend.