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SWINDON WILDCATS: Aldridge pleased with win on 'horrendous' ice
HEAD coach Ryan Aldridge praised his Swindon Wildcats players for getting the job done against Bracknell despite difficult conditions at the Link Centre yesterday.
The ice in the rink was warmer than usual with the surface noticeably wetter, but that did not prevent Swindon grabbing a vital 6-3 win against their fellow play-off chasers.
And while Aldridge was unhappy that the rink was ‘soft’, he was delighted that his team had coped better with the conditions than their visitors.
“We looked tired and the ice was absolutely horrendous,” said Aldridge. “We played tired and I think a big part of that was the ice. It was just so soft.
“There were so many people on it before the game and the dehumidifiers have been taken out of the building so the ice was warmer than it should be and it makes your legs tired.
“We made hard work of it, but good teams find a way to win and we found a way to win, so I’m happy with that.”
Despite a less than convincing display, Aaron Nell’s second hat-trick in three games and further goals from Henri Sandvik, Ollie Betteridge and Jonas Hoog were enough to give Wildcats’ play-off push a major boost.
Aldridge’s men seized the advantage on the powerplay at 2.55 after Pavel Strycek was called for holding, with Adam Harding supplying the pass from which Finnish forward Sandvik tapped in low at the far post.
Sam Smith's tripping penalty afforded the visitors the same opportunity which they duly took, although the goal was contentious in the extreme.
Jan Bendik's slapshot was seen early by netminder Stevie Lyle and although he appeared to direct the effort high and wide with his left glove, the officials mystifyingly ruled that the puck had flown into the net (6.26).
Nell was desperately unlucky to see his wristshot ping back off the post but the Great Britain international was on the scoresheet soon after at 10.06.
Again on the powerplay - this time it was Chris Wiggins serving time for roughing - Nell's angled shot found its way across goaltender Tom Annetts and into the right corner from Smith's pass.
An edgy period ended with Ryan Watt and James Galazzi being called for roughing, while Sandvik was punished for the same reason after improbably sending the vastly-taller Wiggins tumbling from behind.
The second period was quieter but Swindon still had plenty of powerplay chances.
Galazzi, Sam Oakford and Rob Lamey were all sent to the box before Wiggins and Sam Bullas suffered the same fate after a fist fight that went in the away player's favour.
In the closing moments, Brendan Baird's mistake let in Nell, but Annetts was equal to the former Coventry man's shot.
Bendik was penalised for delay of game towards the end the period, but at the start of the third the Bees killed the penalty.
The final period was a fitting finale, with the visitors first drawing level at 44.16 when Sam Oakford’s seemingly tame wristshot from just inside the blueline found its way past Lyle.
Once more the momentum swung as Ollie Betteridge smashed in a top-shelf finish (47.42), only for Shaun Thompson to capitalise on loose defence at the other end 16 seconds later.
Ollie Bronnimann set the nerves of the home supporters jangling when he shot against the iron, but that was the point at which Swindon slammed their foot on the accelerator.
Following a goalmouth scramble, Nell extended a long right arm to stab past Annetts (53.38) and then the hosts went two goals up for the first time.
Lewis Turner was binned for slashing at 54.21 and just 10 seconds later, Alex Symonds fired into the dangerzone and the puck arrived at the feet of Jonas Hoog via Nell for a simple tap-in.
Bracknell pulled Annetts late on but when the puck was turned over in the attacking zone, Nell sent his hat-trick goal just under the bar of an empty net (58.16).
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