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- Manchester Phoenix 6-3 Swindon Wildcats (result)
- Manchester scorers: Robin Kovar (3), Michal Psurny (2), Richard Bentham
- Wildcats scorers: Jan Kostal, Jonas Hoog, Aaron Nell
- Swindon drop out of EPL play-off places after defeat at Altrincham Ice Dome
- Get involved using #wildcatslive and tag in @nedpayne1
- Reporting by NED PAYNE
OK, that's all we've got time for on Ice Hockey Live tonight. A full report and reaction will appear in the Adver tomorrow and look out for plenty more throughout the week.
The NIHL Wildcats lost 6-4 in Oxford tonight.
Just to put tonight's result into context. Manchester outshot Swindon by nearly two to one (54-28).
Sheffield 7 Bracknell 3, Telford 4 Basingstoke 0, Guildford 4 Slough 0.
WILDCATS FORWARD FLOYD TAYLOR RUES SECOND-PERIOD COLLAPSE
"It's a tough place to come and play and we got off to a good start and unfortunately in the second period we lost concentration for a few minutes.
"They are a good team and they were able to kill us."
Fair to say the the camp was very quiet when they came out of the locker room. They were immediately on the minibus and are heading back to Swindon as we speak.
HEAD COACH RYAN ALDRIDGE REFLECTS ON TONIGHT'S DEFEAT
"It wasn't good enough.
"After coming in at the end of the first period 2-1 up, our second period performance wasn't good enough, plain and simple.
"I thought we were better in the third but the second cost us the game."
Reaction from head coach Ryan Aldridge and young forward Floyd Taylor coming up...
Time to get some reaction to that defeat, the fruits of which will appear soon on this liveblog.
Pekkarinen is Swindon's man of the match.
Swindon are dropping out of the play-off places. Ninth now.
Moore was given a delay of game penalty seconds from the end.
Manchester 6 Wildcats 3.
Some 33 seconds left.
Two minutes left and one of those will be Swindon on the powerplay.
Hand called for tripping.
Psurny should have had his hat-trick. Blows the chance.
GOAL! Manchester 6 Wildcats 3, 54.43
That is quite simply the biggest goalmouth scramble I've ever seen. Everyone's in there having a go and Lyle and skipper Shane Moore chuck themselves in the way of the puck on separate occasions, but it's to no avail as Kovar completes his hat-trick unassisted with a close-range finish. Game over.
Psurny nearly found the net shorthanded. Just dragged across goal.
Hoog tries one from halfway. It wasn't far off!
Ripper of a slapshot from Nell is held by Fone at the second attempt.
Bentham called for hooking.
Hoog wiped out in the act of shooting. Penalty coming.
A smidge over eight minutes remaining.
CATS POWERPLAY (FINALLY)
Boothroyd called for delay of game.
GOAL! Manchester 5 Wildcats 3, 45.21, PP
Schnabel's monster slapshot rebounds off the back wall and after Archer can't finish past Lyle, Psurny is there to complete the job. Is that the killer goal?
Lyle blocks from Boothroyd.
Watt penalised for hooking.
GOAL! Manchester 4 Wildcats 3, 43.01
Hang on a minute. Hoog gets the freedom of the left wing and he zings a lovely pass across to Nell who crashes a one-timer low beyond Fone. The Manchester D went completely missing there and the visitors are right back in it.
Big chance for Bentham. Bearing down on Lyle but his slapshot is high and wide.
THIRD PERIOD UNDER WAY
As a point of interest, Swindon will drop to ninth in the EPL table if current scores stay as they are. Telford are three up at home to Basingstoke and looking good for the win.
Here come the players.
Three minutes and we'll be back under way.
I wonder how many fans Basingstoke have taken to Telford tonight? Stop sniggering you lot at the back.
Sheffield 5 Bracknell 1, Telford 3 Basingstoke 0, Guildford 2 Slough 0.
Oxford 0 NIHL Wildcats 1 (end of first period)
Well. Three goals conceded in one minute, 19 seconds made that period less enjoyable from a Swindon point of view than it might have been.
END OF THE SECOND PERIOD
Floyd Taylor takes the visitors' first shot in quite some time. Easy for Fone.
Manchester in total control.
Just under five minutes left of the second period.
The Wildcats goal is leading a charmed life at the moment.
Looks like that unbeaten start to 2014 isn't going to last long...
Manchester deserve their advantage. This is going to take one impressive comeback from Swindon.
GOAL! Manchester 4 Wildcats 2, 32.03
That's a third goal inside two minutes and the hosts have turned it around. Cesky flies forward and the puck breaks nicely to Kovar who sends a neat slapshot past Lyle's left pad.
Time out called by Swindon.
GOALS! Manchester 3 Wildcats 2, 30.44 and 31.08
Two goals in 24 seconds and Swindon are in shock. The first is a basic pull-back from Schnabel and Michal Psurny finds a route past Lyle. Moments later Richard Bentham scores number three, assisted by Liam Chong and Jack Watkins.
Swindon yet to go on the powerplay in this game.
Pinged off the iron by Moore. Again, it looked like the side of the net.
A bit better from Swindon now.
Sam Godfrey definitely hit the iron there, but I think it might have been on the side of the net.
Lyle grabs a slapshot from Kovar and deflects away from Luke Boothroyd to end the powerplay.
Lyle scoops over his own net with his stick from Cesky.
Pekkarinen called for interference.
Manchester are hammering on the door at the start of this second period.
The NIHL Wildcats are 1-0 up at Oxford. Glenn Billing on the scoresheet.
A couple of goalscorer changes have been made from the first period. Hoog scored Swindon's second and Kovar scored Manchester's first.
SECOND PERIOD UNDER WAY
Less than two minutes away.
Outshot 19-7, but leading 1-2... Are those SoG stats a reflection of play, Ned? #wildcatslive Come... On... You... 'Cats! #bleedred— @stripes 05 January 2014
The zamboni is out and we will be back under way in around seven minutes.
Don't forget to have your say using #wildcatslive and tweeting me at @nedpayne1.
Terrifically entertaining first period. If we get two more like that then you have to say the fans have got value for money here tonight.
Sheffield 0 Bracknell 1, Telford 2 Basingstoke 0.
That was breathless stuff.
END OF THE FIRST PERIOD
Aku Pekkarinen tests Fone from the left wing but gets no joy.
There are 58 seconds left of the first period.
Manchester are great in the attacking zone but they are looking very nervy in the defensive zone.
Floyd Taylor does fantastically to hunt down the puck on the left wing but his square pass is not met with a clean shot by Adam Harding.
Lyle blocks from James Archer from right in front of the net. It was quite a difficult chance to take in fairness.
There's goals in this game tonight. Absolutely no doubt about it.
Have we really played 14 minutes already?
I'm pretty convinced we do not have a fully-fit Steve Fone on our hands here.
Woohoooo go @SwinWildcats !!! You watt, you watt .... 👍 Keep it up guys!!! #wildcatslive— @ThatCurlyBird 05 January 2014
GOAL! Manchester 1 Wildcats 2, 9.16
Goodness me. It's an absolute howler from Fone. It's a straightforward shot to hold from Watt but the goaltender somehow scoops the puck behind him and across goal after initially seeming to gather, which allows Jonas Hoog to slam home from a narrow angle.
GOAL! Manchester 1 Wildcats 1, 7.59
It's virtually Swindon's first attack and they are level. Sam Smith bombs towards the net and squares for Jan Kostal, who sees his initial shot saved but is able to stab beyond Fone at the second attempt. Henri Sandvik also gets an assist.
GOAL! Manchester 1 Wildcats 0, 5.11, PP
It's been coming. Joe Graham skids the puck across goal and after Lyle blocks well from player-coach Tony Hand, Robin Kovar is in the right place to squeeze home the opener.
Lyle holds another Schnabel drive.
Almighty slapshot from Michal Psurny from the left wing is grabbed at the second attempt by Lyle.
Stevie Whitfield sits for tripping.
Referees tonight are Liptrott and Boardman, by the way. Lines are Heatherington and Wells.
And seconds later the iron comes to Lyle's rescue! Phoenix on the front foot.
Lyle gets his right arm to Robert Schnabel's early slapshot.
FIRST PERIOD UNDER WAY
Great atmosphere. Lovely place to watch hockey, this.
In goal are Stevie Lyle for Swindon and Fone for Manchester.
TONIGHT'S EPL FIXTURES
Sheffield v Bracknell, Telford v Basingstoke, Guildford v Slough.
Both teams have entered the arena.
ALL POSITIONS COVERED
Lee Richardson has been Mr Versatile in a positional sense this season - both at Slough and now Swindon - but says he is more than content to continue in that vein.
“This season in Slough I was back and forth every game,” said Richardson.
“It (playing defence) is something you get used to as you get older and especially coming into a new team, you don’t walk in and say, ‘I’m doing this and I’m doing that’, you do what you’re told.
"That’s fair enough. As long as I’m helping and hindering the team, that’s all that matters.
"Being around a long time you read the game better and that helps. I’m a defensive forward anyway, so it’s not too bad.
“There’s still things I have to do better but hopefully I can learn that and help the team.
“As long as the boys are winning, that’s all we have to do.”
As discussed, Fone ices for Manchester, but there's no Frankie Bakrlik who is injured. Former Swindon man Jaroslav Cesky plays for the Phoenix.
For Wildcats, Loris Taylor is on Wightlink duty while import D-man Tomas Fojtik does not play. I will attempt to get a definite answer on the Czech's future later.
@stripes @SwinWildcats @nedpayne1 come on Swindon #wildcatslive— @swildcat 05 January 2014
DIDN'T THEY DO WELL?
I know back-slapping can be rather tedious, but I'd like to say a massive thank you to all you hockey fans out there reading this liveblog, because last Sunday against Telford we smashed through the 2,000 page views barrier for the first time in a regular season game - 2,138 for the sticklers amongst you. The only time we've broken 2,000 before was for the play-off games against Basingstoke in 2012/13, and this latest milestone makes us all at Adver Towers very happy. So many thanks for the part you played. Please keep reading.
You will be delighted to hear that Shaun Moore is once again icing for Swindon, not Shane Moore. Poor Moorsy was Shaun here in the programme last time and he's Shaun again!
Feels kind of odd only having a one-game weekend, don't you think? You'd like to believe that the Wildcats would be fresher than their hosts tonight having not played yesterday, but we shall see.
For me, the Fone factor is massive tonight. I want to see those shots raining in. Swindon need to ask plenty of questions.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge has promised to work on the Swindon powerplay and he believes that once his team have a few practice sessions under their belt, matters will improve.
Aldridge said: “Aaron (Nell) gives you a chance to win every night, but I think that line was off on Wednesday (in the 6-3 win over Bracknell),” he said.
“Jonas (Hoog) and Aaron didn’t really click but they still found a way to score four goals between them.
“I just don’t think that we retrieved pucks well enough. We took the shot and they got the puck every time and got it out.
“That’s obviously something to work on but we haven’t really had practice since Aaron’s been back in the line-up.
“We’ve been out once for one quick practice so we know we have to work on the powerplay, that’s for sure.”
Out for dinner so keeping up with the Wildcats will be tough!!! Show them what we've got!!110% every shift and take chances! #wildcatslive— @slapshot6032 05 January 2014
The tweets are starting to come in. Don't forget to have your say...
Big game for the Cats tonight. Two points would be massive and give us a chance to start climbing the table #wildcatslive— @Thomas_Graham92 05 January 2014
I believe Paul Maudsley was on the ice wearing Jorge El-Hage's shirt, somewhat confusingly. Anyway, the warm-up is now over.
Any second now, a poll will appear just below and you can cast your vote on what you think the result will be tonight. Confident?
GET INVOLVED USING #WILDCATSLIVE
Your involvement is vital to Ice Hockey Live and we want you to let us know your thoughts on all things Wildcats-related. This can be about anything, whether it be the performances of imports, Swindon's play-off prospects or your views on the powerplay. All you have to do is use #wildcatslive on Twitter and/or tag me in (@nedpayne1) and I will endeavour to include your thoughts. You can comment before, during and after the game and you can also get your opinion off your chest in the comments section below. There is absolutely no reason not to have your say and you can be as controversial as you like (but please keep it clean).
The big news is that as the teams warm up I can see that Manchester's Steve Fone and youngster Paul Maudsley are both out on the ice. Fone missed last night's defeat to Basingstoke due to illness with Maudsley deputising. Not sure how fit Fone is feeling, but will see.
Evening all. The Wildcats are in Manchester tonight to take on a Phoenix team well-capable of finishing top of the EPL standings come the end of the season. This evening's game marks the beginning of a frenetic period that sees Swindon face four road matches in 13 days (and one at home), so rest assured you are going to be seeing plenty of Ice Hockey Live over the next couple of weeks.