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Defeat tough on impressive Cats
WILDCATS head coach Ryan Aldridge hailed his side’s effort against Milton Keynes last night as their best performance of the EPL season to date.
But Swindon were still left with the bitter taste of defeat in their mouths after the Lightning edged a 4-3 victory despite being outshot 39-29 at the Link Centre.
However, while frustrated at the end result, Aldridge was full of praise for his troops and said there were plenty of positives to take from the clash.
“MK had a couple of bounces that went their way and we know what our mistakes were, but as a whole I think that’s the best we’ve played as a team all year,” said Aldridge.
“We normally have to sit back against them but tonight we matched them and although it’s hard to say until I’ve seen the video, I think we had the majority of the play.
“It’s tough to lose on a Sunday because you can’t get a win back straight away, but we just talked about the positives and we’ll go over our mistakes in practice.
“To be fair to the players that made mistakes, they owned up straight away and that’s a good thing for me because it’s shows they are strong characters.”
After both sides started slowly, Swindon were beginning to get a foothold in the game when MK hit the front at 9.30.
Stan Lascek sent Janne Jokila clean through on goal and the Finnish forward applied a confident top-shelf finish past netminder Stevie Lyle.
Matters quietened down until Adam Harding took a stick in the face from Blaz Emersic, for which the MK import was swiftly binned and Swindon made the most of the resulting powerplay.
Henri Sandvik pulled the puck across the face of goal and Aldridge was left with the simple task of stabbing into the net from close range (17.34).
The second period began in explosive fashion as two goals were scored in the space of 19 seconds. First Ross Bowers managed to force the puck home past Stevie Whitfield and Lyle (22.24), before Sam Smith grabbed his first goal in a Wildcats jersey as he shot neatly past Wall’s right pad (22.43).
A penalty-laden spell culminated in Sam Bullas and Grant McPherson ripping off the gloves and Bullas used his height to punch over the top and floor the Lightning forward, to the delight of the home fans.
Lukas Zatopek then withdrew from the action after suffering a wrist injury from a skate blade, but MK were swiftly back in positive mood as Jokila provided the assist from which Adam Carr restored the visitors' lead.
The period ended in fractious fashion with verbals being exchanged between players from both sides in two separate incidents, including after the buzzer had sounded.
Wildcats were made to pay for an icing infringement at the end of the second period when MK extended their lead at 41.03, with Lascek given too much time on the left and his diagonal pass was directed home by Tom Carlon.
The hosts needed an instant response and they got it when Sandvik beat Wall at 45.26, and Swindon piled on the pressure thereafter.
However, the visiting defence held out impressively and Wall came to the rescue on several occasions as MK took two points home to Buckinghamshire.
On Saturday, Swindon secured a 3-2 win over Sheffield following a shootout at the Link Centre.
The Steeldogs took the lead through import Lubomir Korhon (1.45) before Finnish import Juha Silvander sent home his first Wildcats goal (16.32).
Sandvik put the hosts in front soon after the second period began (20.50) but Ben Morgan levelled on the powerplay (28.15).
Captain Shane Moore and Bullas were both involved in rough stuff before the buzzer, and following five minutes of overtime Swindon snuck the win.
Jonas Hoog and Aku Pekkarinen both sent the puck home to give the home side a shootout victory.
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