SWINDON Wildcats netminder Stevie Lyle was left frustrated by his team’s performance after they brought the curtain down on their English Premier League regular season programme by surrendering a two-goal lead in a 4-2 defeat at Basingstoke Bison.
Max Birbraer’s second double in as many days in the first period had put the Cats in the driving seat at Planet Ice.
However, they were unable to press home their advantage further as Bison battled their way back into the game with a goal in the second period.
With the score at 2-1 going into the third, Bison were soon back level when Joe Rand restored parity.
Then, two goals from Ciaran Long sealed a late win for the home side, who the Cats will now face in the play-offs after finishing sixth in the table.
Lyle, who took charge of the team in the absence of head coach Aaron Nell as he missed the match due to personal reasons, admitted his team switched off after making a promising start to the game.
“You’d think we might have learned from last night where we also had a two-goal lead,” said Lyle.
“It’s tough because you aren’t really playing for anything. I guess we were playing for positions but we weren’t going to change how we played.
“We were the better team in the first period and we took our foot off the gas for some reason, I don’t know why.
“We were missing some keys players and we needed them for when we were being pushed back.
“The last 40 minutes felt like they were a power-play, but as a goalie, I don’t mind that because it kept me in the game.”
The result means Swindon will now have to tackle Milton Keynes Lightning and Hull Pirates as well as Basingstoke in the play-offs.
The first of those games will be on Wednesday night when the Cat travel to Milton Keynes and Lyle is optimistic about his side’s chances.
“It’s a lesson learned but I am hoping that the boys are saving some energy for Wednesday,” he said.
“To be honest, I think we match up better against Basingstoke than we do Peterborough.
“At the end of the day, Milton Keynes is just another game. We have had reasonable success when we have played them, so hopefully that carries on.
“After speaking to their coach when we last played them, they are a lot more worried about playing us then we are about them.”
As the regular season comes to a close, Lyle thinks it has been a progressive season for the Cats.
“It’s always a long season unless you win everything, then it’s fun,” he added. “Every weekend we can always improve on things.”