The Bracknell Bees made the short journey along with M4 to Swindon to face off against the Wildcats in a regular season English Premier League & Cup match this past Saturday.
The Bees went into the game missing Carl Graham with the home side Wildcats at full strength. Alex Mettam was given the start in the Bees net whilst Stevie Lyle started the game between the pipes for the Wildcats. Referee Dave Cloutman took charge of the match with Nathan Ormond and Elliot Marshall on the lines.
Early chances were exchanged as the teams both looked for the quick lead in the local derby and both netminders had to be alert to keep to scoreboard blank in the opening minutes. It was the home side however that would be first on the scoreboard with just over five minutes gone as Tomasz Malasinski and Jonas Hoog combined well to setup the Wildcats player/coach Aaron Nell who fired past Alex Mettam in the Bees net. The Bees battled their way back into the game though with both Scott Spearing and Luka Basic forcing good saves from Stevie Lyle in the Wildcats goal. Despite the pressure from the visiting Bees the home side doubled their lead with just over nine minutes gone as a long pass out of defence by Lee Richardson to Jonas Hoog was converted by the Swede on a delayed Bees penalty. Undeterred the Bees looked to get a foot hold in the match but appeared to have more problems when Luka Basic was assessed a tripping minor with a little under seventeen minutes gone however Lukas Smital pounced on a loose puck to race clear and finish well past Stevie Lyle to narrow the Wildcats lead to one. The Bees finished the period on the front foot looking for the equalising goal.
The second period started with Jonas Hoog and Lukas Basic clashing with less than a minute gone and both player received two minute unsportsmanlike behaviour minors. The sides iced four on four and shortly after the teams returned to full strength the Wildcats picked up a further penalty as Callum Buglass was called for high sticking. The Bees set to work on the power play with Harvey Stead and Lukas Smital forcing Stevie Lyle into action in the Wildcats net however a shorthanded Swindon breakaway, created by Tomasz Malasinski, was finished off by Aaron Nell and the Wiltshire side again had a two goal lead. Another Wildcats penalty, this time to Stevie Whitfield for tripping, saw the visiting Bees again push forward with the man advantage but despite all their efforts the Wildcats defence kept them at bay and in the dying seconds of the powerplay Luka Basic picked up a slashing minor and the home side headed onto a powerplay of their own. Alex Mettam did well to deny both Jan Kostal and Jonas Hoog but with five minutes remaining in the period Swindon further extended their lead as a long pass from Mark Smith to Aaron Nell saw the Wildcats player coach complete his hat trick. Shortly after the goal Neil Liddiard and Scott Spearing clashed, both receiving roughing minors and James Galazzi also received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty giving the home side a late powerplay. This was effectively killed off by the Bracknell side and a late chance fell to Matt Foord but Stevie Lyle denied him in the dying moments.
With three goals to claw back the Bees knew that the final period needed a fast start from them but the Wildcats appeared to have set out a defensive position to see out the game. Early chances came and went for the Bees through Lukas Smital and Luka Basic before the Wildcats exerted some pressure of their own which led to their fifth goal of the evening with Jonas Hoog netting from a tight angle. Tempers frayed again with a little over six minutes remaining in the game and Scott Spearing, Sam Bullas and Jan Kostal all headed to the box giving the Bees a man advantage the pressure and efforts paid off as Carl Thompson managed to find a way past Alex Mettam, narrowing the lead once again. With the Bees on the front foot and pushing forward the Wildcats managed to finish the game off in the dying minute through Jan Kostal giving the home side the two points.
Man of the match awards went to Bees forward Carl Thompson and Aaron Nell for the home side Wildcats.
Period scores: 2-0, 2-1, 2-1
Wildcats scorers: Nell 3+1; Hoog 2+1; Kostal 1+0; Malasinski 0+4; Smith 0+2; Bullas, Richardson & Birbraer 0+1
Bees scorers: L.Smital 1+1; Thompson 1+0; Stead, Spearing & Basic 0+1
Wildcats PIMS: 16 (Liddiard 4; Bullas, Kostal, Whitfield, Buglass, Hoog & Bench 2)
Bees PIMS: 12 (Basic 6; Spearing 4 & Galazzi 2)
Shots on Wildcats (Lyle): 34 (6, 13, 15)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 35 (9, 14, 12)