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Game Report: Swindon Wildcats 4 Peterborough Phantoms 3 - 20/02/16

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Swindon Wildcats logo It was a close affair at the at the Swindon Ice Arena on Saturday night, but ultimately Aaron Nell's Wildcats side emerged victorious against last season's play-off champions.Total Sport's Ben Callaghan reports.

Saturday evening saw the Swindon Wildcats hold on for a narrow 4-3 against the Peterborough Phantoms. It was the first time since the opening night of the 2015-16 EPIHL season the Phantoms had visited the Link.

Swindon were significantly boosted by the return of Stevie Lyle, Tomasz Malasinski and Matt Selby from international duty and injury respectively. Peterborough were hampered with the loss of import forward Ales Padelek.

Both teams started well and forced their opposing netminder into key saves early on in the game. It was Peterborough who had the better chances in the opening period outshooting the Cats 7-17. Lyle was keeping the pucks out of the net with glove saves to stop Craig Scott and Darius Pliskauskas from scoring. At the other end of the ice Swindon nearly pressured Janis Auzins into giving the puck away allowing the Cats to shoot the puck on the empty net, but the puck just couldn't find it way to a clean Wildcats stick in time. At 12.58 the Phantoms got their first goal of the game.

Milan Baranyk picked the puck up in centre ice, skated up the left wing and fired a nice wristshot through the legs of Lyle. The assists being awarded to Scott and Marc Levers. The Cats struggled to get clean shots on Auzins with the Phantoms putting bodies in the way of the majority of the chances we had. The middle period would prove more successful for the home side. At 21.57 they managed to tie the game up on the powerplay. Nell fed the puck towards the net and Auzins stopped the original shot. The rebound fell into a crowd of players and after Sam Bullas tried to slide the puck home, the returning Malasinski was able to get the puck over the line. The Cats didn't waste long in getting the go-ahead goal, scoring their second at 23.10.

The Cats top line linked up again, this time Malasinski and Nell combing for Jonas Höög to put the Cats a goal up. Nell's shot was turned away by Auzins only for Höög to tap in the rebound. The Phantoms got themselves back in the game through a powerplay goal of their own at 28.27 whenScott Robson fired a puck into the danger area, the puck bounced off Neil Liddiard and found its way into the back of the net.

Höög was having a storming game and at 33.35 he scored his second of the night, with the assists again going to Nell and Malasinski. Nell's shot this time swallowed up by Auzins. With everyone frozen expecting the puck to be covered, Höög was the only person to react to the loose puck and bundled it over the line to regain the lead for Swindon. Despite strong pressure from Peterborough and in particular Scott, Darius Pliskauskas and Milan Baranyk, the Cats went into the second break 3-2 up.

The Cats knew a 4th goal would give them much needed breathing space. After 63 seconds of third period hockey they got the goal they wanted. Malasinksi fed a pass to Nell, who broke away down the middle of the ice and fired a stunning wristshot into the top corner of the net for the Cats 4th of the night, this whilst shorthanded with Selby in the penalty box. A goal of real top quality from the Cats player coach. The Phantoms had one last roll of the dice and with Auzins pulled they made it a one goal game. Will Weldon did enough on a Scott shot to tip the puck into the top corner past Lyle and make it a nervy final minute.

Liddiard nearly scored from his own end on the empty net, but the puck went agonizingly wide of the left post. Swindon held on and ensured the 2 points would remain in Wiltshire, and a much needed 2 points they were after 4 losses on the bounce.

John Barras sponsored Man of the Match awards

Top Hat Entertainments sponsored Stevie Lyle - Swindon Wildcats

Cam McGiffin - Peterborough Phantoms

Click here for more information and news from the Swindon Wildcats website

Click here to see the latest Swindon Wildcats roster for the 2015/16 season

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