THE scoreline might have flattered them but Swindon swept to a stunning 6-1 victory at home to high-flying Manchester on Saturday.
It was certainly a tale of two netminders, with Swindon’s Dean Skinns enjoying an incredible 60 minutes and the Phoenix’s Jorge El-Hage experiencing something of a nightmare.
Skinns saved nearly 97 per cent of the 32 shots on his goal while six of the 22 shots fired on El-Hage flew into the net, before the gloveman - a replacement for the injured Steve Fone - was hauled off in the closing minutes.
D-man Shane Moore got the ball rolling at 1.35 with his first goal of the season before a Robert Schnabel slapshot evened things up (8.26) on the powerplay.
Henri Sandvik deflected in Aaron Nell’s powerplay effort to restore the hosts’ lead (16.58) and just after the half way mark, Tomas Fojtik surged forward and beat the screened El-Hage with a powerful slapshot (32.46).
At the start of period three, Swindon put the game out of reach of their visitors, scoring twice within the opening four minutes.
First Ollie Betteridge converted (41.09) and then Nell’s accurate strike took the lead out to 5-1 at 43.18.
Wildcats rubbed salt in Manchester’s considerable wounds when Nell got his second at 52.31 with the home side short-handed, and El-Hage subsequently exited the action.
Netminder Skinns said: “Any time you beat a top-three team it just proves you can play in this league and that we can be right up there.
“It’s just a matter of us getting that consistency going, but unfortunately we’ve had injuries and players leave which hurts you a little bit.
“But this is what we have to finish the season with and we’ve just got to keep plugging away.
“When you look back at it, Manchester scored quite early on so to go the rest of the game without conceding was good.
“It’s nice for you to have nice stats but at the same time it’s nice to win a trophy. I would take that over good stats any day.”