WILDCATS finally ended their Manchester jinx as they defeated the Phoenix at the Link Centre on Saturday.
Having previously lost three EPL games against Tony Hand’s title-chasing side by a single goal, Swindon triumphed 4-2 on their own ice courtesy of efforts from Tomas Fojtik, Michal Kapicka, Aaron Nell and Jonas Hoog.
It was a victory that delighted Wildcats D-man Stevie Whitfield.
He said: “We’ve been close to Manchester a few times so it was good to get over the line, especially with it being 3-2 going into the third period.
“It’s a situation we’ve been in a lot, but to carry it over and get that fourth goal was good.
“We turned a corner in Manchester when we came back from 4-0 down to get a point, that showed us what we could do.
“On Saturday, I wasn’t thinking we were going to lose. A win against anyone is good but especially Manchester who will be right up there.”
Forward Lee Richardson took his share of the plaudits having turned out to play a matter of hours after his wife Sam had given birth.
The 30-year-old had enjoyed little sleep the previous night ahead of the arrival of Max early in the morning, but Whitfield was impressed with the display of the former Bracknell man.
“He did really well considering I don’t think he had much sleep,” said Whitfield.
“He played a big role and probably had his best game of the year.”
Manchester took the lead at 10.51 through a James Neil rebound with Shane Moore off the ice for roughing, but Swindon - who were without Matias Perkkio, Nicky Watt and Sam Bullas - found a quick reply less than two minutes later.
With the hosts on the powerplay this time courtesy of a slashing penalty on Ciaran Long, D-man Fojtik let rip with a fierce one-timer following Kapicka’s face-off pass (12.28).
Having hit the pipes, Manchester did re-take the lead through Richard Bentham at 18.07 when he tipped Robert Schnabel’s shot beyond gloveman Dean Skinns.
However, Wildcats restored parity as Kapicka pounced on the rebound at 19.13 after Hoog was denied by Steve Fone.
Matters got tasty in the second period when the Phoenix’s Michal Psurny was handed a 2+10 for checking from behind, plus an extra two minutes for roughing after Paul Swindlehurst took exception, the Swindon D-man receiving a 2+2 penalty himself.
After that, it was all about the hosts. Wildcats went ahead for the first time at 33.10 when Hoog fed Nell and the skipper converted at the near post.
Swindon wrapped up the two points with just over three minutes remaining, Hoog making no mistake in front of a gaping net after Fone had kept out an effort from Kapicka (56.43).