Game Preview: Wildcats vs Steeldogs & Flames 02-03/01/16

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Swindon Wildcats logo Clinical finishing from Jan Kostal, Toms Rutkis and Jonas Höög ensured the Wildcats took the M4 derby honours of the Christmas period in a frenetic encounter at the SIA on Monday [December 28, 2015] evening, but despite the result, player-coach Aaron Nell is viewing this Saturday's match against the Sheffield Steeldogs as a "must win" fixture.

Photo by Nicky Pearce on behalf of the Swindon Wildcats."It's a big game, there's no doubt about that," Nell said ahead of the weekend. "We weren't at our best on Monday and we just about managed the two points.

"We need to put more effort in against the Steeldogs as they're in a real purple patch at present and have only lost once in their last twelve games [3-6 against Guildford Flames on December 20] so we know it's going to be tough against them."

With just one defeat since November 22, the Steeldogs have netted 58 times while conceding 32 with their latest W coming in the form of a penalty shot victory on New Year's Eve against the Hull Pirates which continues a remarkable run given the stop-start the South Yorkshire club endured at the beginning of the campaign.

In contrast, the Wildcats have put a lot of effort in over recent weeks while they been without games, but that effort hasn't quite been transformed on to the ice.

"The break is tough," Nell told Matthew Edwards from the Swindon Advertiser.

"I know it probably doesn't make sense to the average person but when you are out for two weeks it is tough.

"The boys are on the ice still and in the gym but there is nothing like playing games.

"We have done that for a few years now and got away with it but I think we have been stung by it this year.

"All year we have been good in practice but now we have really got to buckle down and get that game shape back and start improving every week again."

The Wildcats welcome back import forward Carlo Finucci following his return to full fitness, however D-man Matt Selby will be absent from the game following his game exclusion picked up against the Bees on Monday.

Steeldogs meanwhile, welcome the return of Callum Pattison from his suspension but may be without defenceman Jack Doane who received a club imposed ban last Monday after the 27-year old retaliated against a hit he received to the head by Manchester Phoenix forward Michal Satek. With no reference as to how long the suspension will last and given that the player has shown remorse for his actions, it will be left to player-coach Greg Wood to decide on his fate. The only other reported doubt is to D-man Tim Smith, who missed the game against Hull with an undisclosed injury.

2015-16 SEASON SERIES vs STEELDOGS

1-3 | 11-1

TICKETS

Tickets are available on the door for walk-up customers on the night of the game and are priced from £13 for Adults, £10 and £5 for Children. Family tickets are also available, see the Wildcats Ticket Price page for full details.

TEAMS

WILDCATS FROM: Netminder - Jordan Hedley and Stevie Lyle. Defence - Callum Buglass, Neil Liddiard, Kenton Smith, Harvey Stead and Stephen Whitfield. Forwards - Sam Bullas, Carlo Finucci, Owen Griffiths, Adam Harding, Jonas Höög, Jan Kostal ©, Tomasz Malasinski, Corey McEwen, Aaron Nell, Toms Rutkis, Michael Stratford, Floyd Taylor. Utility - Lee Richardson and Matt Selby.

STEELDOGS FROM: Netminders - Thomas Barkworth, Nicole Jackson and Dalibor Sedlar. Defence - Thomas Barry, Jack Doane, Steven Duncombe, Lee Haywood, Ben Morgan © and Tim Smith. Forwards - Arnoldas Bosas, Ashley Calvert, Liam Charnock, Craig Elliott, Andrew Hirst, Lubomir Korhon, Stanislav Lascek, Callum Pattison, Cole Shudra, Thomas Squires, Charlie Thompson and Greg Wood. Utility - Lewis Bell.

FORM

Ahead of the game, the Steeldogs are currently in seventh place in the standings with thirty-two points from twenty-eight games. That's two places below the Cats, who are in fifth with thirty-six points, having played one games more than their visitors.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Danny Gallagher from Total Swindon will be keeping supporters up-to-date with his play-by-play updates against the Steeldogs via Twitter, with coverage getting underway around 5:40pm. The Swindon Advertiser will also have their online coverage, HERE.

GUILDFORD vs WILDCATS

Sunday see's the club make the relatively short journey to Surrey where we take on Paul Dixon's Flames.

Photo by Nicky Pearce on behalf of the Swindon Wildcats.Guildford enter the game having had Saturday evening off the ice given that they host the Bracknell Bees tonight [Friday January 1, 2016] and will be looking for a repeat of the shutout they managed against the Cats back in September - one of only two games this season the Wildcats have failed to register a goal, the second being against Basingstoke Bison on Boxing Day - a loss that Nell identified as making four points this weekend, a must.

"We're putting pressure on ourselves for that Guilford game," he told Dan Barnes from the Advertiser after the second shutout.

"Sheffield was always going to be a must-win game and now the Guildford game is too.

"By playing like that [failing to impress against the Bison], we put pressure on ourselves as a team but we'll bounce back and we'll come out better."

FLAMES FROM: Netminders - Gregg Rockman and Stephen Wall. Defence - Paul Dixon, Samuel Godfrey, Jeremy Lundin ©, Daniel Meyers and Kevin Phillips. Forwards - Ben Campbell, Thomas Duggan, Jens Eriksson, Lee Esders, Andrew Hemmings, Matic Kralj, Marcus Kristoffersson, Andrew McKinney, Andrew Melachrino, Janis Ozolins, Erik Piatak and Matt Towe. Utility - Rupert Quiney.

2015-16 SEASON SERIES vs FLAMES

0-6 | 7-4

TICKETS

Tickets are available for walk-up customers at the door on the night of the game and are advertised at the following rates:

Adults - from £11.50, Concessions - from £6.95, Children - from £5.95 and Family (2 x Adults and 2 x Child) - £29.

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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