Swindon AdvertiserPanthers make a roaring start to the season (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Panthers make a roaring start to the season

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon Panthers pictured with new mascot Kieran Cookson Swindon Panthers pictured with new mascot Kieran Cookson

SWINDON Panthers kicked off their summer league campaign with a thumping 10-2 win over Streatham Nightwolves at the Link Centre.

The Panthers boast extra strength in depth this year with all three lines featuring ex-professional experience.

Panthers dominated the early stages and it was little surprise when last year’s champions took the lead when Neil Rouse opened his account assisted by Paul Wojciak.

Wojciak then added the second, this time assisted by Gary Loveday before Rob Croucher added a third, without reply, assisted by Kenny Redmond.

Nightwolves came back with a marker at 14.09 only to be cancelled out by a powerplay slapshot from Panthers’ Darren Taylor.

The second period continued at a frantic pace before Nightwolves pulled another goal back to make it 4-2.

Johan Persson restored Panthers’ three-goal advantage at 35.05 before Redmond’s second goal extended their lead further.

Scott Gough got the seventh after a reverse pass from Persson and then Rouse ripped in the eighth, assisted by Loveday and Burnett.

At 49.33, Persson got his second of the night, assisted by Gough before the final goal of the night came from defence as Burnett’s fierce slapshot found the back of the net.

Tempers flared in the closing stages as Rob Croucher clashed with the Nightwolves skipper, which saw him given an early shower while his rival was handed a tripple match penalty which will see him banned for nine matches after taking his frustrations out on the officials.

At the end of the game the Panthers delighted big fan Kieran Cookson, a Down Syndrome sufferer, who loves hockey and came down with his dad to meet the team and went out on the ice to join the team for post-game celebration.

Cookson was awarded mascot status and will be joining the team each week form now on.

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