Match report by Yvonne Slater
The Bees festive period action drew to a close at The Hive on New Year’s Day as they took on their M4 rivals in local derby action. The Bees were still missing Scott Spearing and Josh Smith but Luka Basic returned from injury whilst the visiting Wildcats were without Oliver Stone, Toms Rutkis, Calum Buglass and Ryan Aldridge but added Michael Stratford back to their line-up on his return from the Manchester Phoenix. Netminders Alex Mettam, for the Bees, and Stevie Lyle for the Wildcats, started the match in the respective goals. Referee Andrew Miller took charge of the match with Scott Ellis & Flynn Sitch-Cunningham on the lines.
Within the opening minute of the match the Wildcats Ben Nethersell fanned on a clearance of the puck and Bees forward Rio Grinell-Parke pounced on the loose puck and at close range fired the puck on net only to see it rebound away for Lukas Smital to collect and shoot in again forcing Wildcats netminder Stevie Lyle to cover up. Luka Basic, in his first game back after recent injury, had a backhand shot whistle just wide of the Swindon post shortly after as the Bees piled on early pressure to the visitors. A break for Jan Kostal saw him with a chance for the visiting Wildcats but fortunately for the home side Bees his stick broke as he tried to shoot in on net. The Bees were still on the front foot and maintained their pressure and saw another shot from Luka Basic tipped wide by Stevie Lyle. Rio Grinnel-Parke had another good opportunity but this time his shot was deflected away. With just under eight minutes of the game in the book Swindon took the first penalty of the evening as Stephen Whitfield received a two minute slashing minor giving the Bees a power play opportunity. With the man advantage Martin Pavlicek stuck the puck through traffic, in front of net, but it goes just wide of the post. Lukas Smital then picked up the loose puck and passes it to Alex Barker but Barker just failed to get his shot away as the Wildcats defence stood firm to kill off the penalty. Somewhat against the run of play Jonas Hoog netted the first goal of the game, with about six minutes left of the period, assists going to Jordan Kelsall & Tomasz Malasinski. Despite further neutral zone action neither team created any further notable chances and the visiting Wildcats headed into the break one goal up.
The Bees looked to start the second period quickly and on the front foot and an early chance saw Carl Thompson finding Luka Basic with a nice pass but Basic’s shot rebounded off Stevie Lyle to safety. The Wildcats had some pressure of their own shortly after as they collected the puck and headed out of their zone with Neil Liddiard firing in on Alex Mettam who caught the puck to stop play. From the resulting face off Floyd Taylor fired a shot wide of the Bees net and the Bee do well to soak up the continuing pressure from the Wildcats and eventually clear the zone. Both sides exchange a few shots in on net but no clear chances to bother either netminder as the defences stand their ground. Jonas Hoog and Max Birbraer did come closest for the Wildcats and Danny Ingoldsby and Josh Tetlow tried their luck from distance for the Bees. For long periods of time during the second stanza the play moved from end to end but with few clear chances at either end of the ice. In the dying moments of the second period Rio Grinell-Parke skated down the wing and cut inside but the puck went agonisingly wide. An even period which saw no penalties or goals ended with Swindon still holding the narrow one goal lead.
With all to play for in the third period the Bees again got off to the early start as Alex Barker found Lukas Smital whose resulting shot pinged off the Swindon cross bar to safety. Alex Mettam, in the Bees net, was called into action from the resulting break but tipped the puck away with his glove out of danger. Again for a few minutes the play was end to end with few chances until Luka Basic again closed in on net, but the puck was cleared away but Alex Barker found the rebound and at close range fired the puck goal wards but Stevie Lyle tipped the puck away once more. With less than seven minutes left of the third period the Bees efforts finally paid off and opened their scoring with a bouncing puck effort from Olegs Lascenko which found its way straight past Stevie Lyle and into the back of the Swindon net, assists going to Carl Thompson & David Gaborcik. The Swindon netminder Stevie Lyle protested to the referee claiming a high stick, but the goal stood and the Bees had found their equaliser. Swindon’s Tomasz Malasinski received a two minute tripping penalty with less than three minutes left in the game but despite the Bees pushing forward the visitors killed the penalty and the game clock expired and the teams headed into overtime for the second time at The Hive this season having sealed a league point each.
The netminders are asked to swap ends for he overtime period, much to the bemusement of the fans, and overtime began with three on three play but with less than two minutes of extra period gone the Wildcats were assessed a two minute bench minor for too many men on the ice. Bracknell called a time out at the same break in play but only twelve seconds later Swindon call a time out of their own. Unfortunately for the home side Bees less than one minute after the Swindon penalty Bees forward Luka Basic collected a two minute interference penalty. Both teams dug deep and both penalties were killed and time expired on the overtime period and penalty shots would be needed to decide the result.
The penalty shots saw the Wildcats with the first penalty and Tomasz Malasinski was up first for the visitors but missed. Luka Basic stepped up first for the Bees but also missed. Next up for the visitors was Jan Kostal and he scored his penalty shot. Shaun Thompson’s was up next for the Bees but he saw his shot saved by Stevie Lyle. Jonas Hoog missed the Wildcats third shot and so Alex Barker stepped up needing to score to extend the shootout but unfortunately Stevie Lyle saved his shot giving the Cats the win. Man of the match awards went to Rio Grinnel-Parke for the home side Bees and to Stephen Whitfield for the visiting Swindon Wildcats.
Period scores: 0-1; 0-0; 1-0; 0-0
Bees scorers: Lascenko 1+0; Gaborcik & C.Thompson 0+1
Wildcats scorers: Hoog 1+0; Smith & Kelsall 0+1
Bees PIMS: 2 (Basic 2)
Wildcats PIMS: 6 (Whitfield, Malasinksi & Bench 2)
Shots on Bees (Mettam): 22 (6, 5, 8, 3)
Shots on Wildcats (Lyle): 37 (12, 9, 15, 1)