WILDCATS’ hopes of a four-point weekend were brought crashing down in the most dramatic of circumstances last night as Peterborough scored with a second left and then snatched victory in overtime.
James Ferrara pulled back for Jozef Sladok to make it 3-3 at 59.59 and although the Planet Ice clock showed time had run out, match official Jurijs Solovjovs ruled it hadn’t and therefore the extra period was ordered.
The demoralised Swindon side had their fate secured when Tom Norton tucked into the roof the net 48 seconds after the restart.
It was a shattering end to a game that the visitors had led 3-0 at one point, and D-man Joe Baird was left bemused at the final buzzer.
Asked if the goal was legal, he said: “I don’t really know whether it was or whether it wasn’t, there was nothing on the clock when we looked up.
“We were assuming the time had run out, the official decided it hadn’t and counted the goal, so who knows?”
Head coach Ryan Aldridge admitted he was stunned at the manner of the defeat and urged his players to remain strong in the face of disappointment.
“Peterborough were playing desperate hockey and I’m gobsmacked to be honest,” he said.
“I don’t know (if the goal should have stood), there wasn’t any time left on the clock so I’m not sure how that works.
“I thought we played well this weekend and I never thought we were going to lose that game.
“It’s a testing time for everyone right now and especially for the boys, hopefully they don’t lose too much heart.”
Wildcats had got off to the perfect start just 49 seconds in, as Aaron Nell controlled the puck brilliantly with his skate and poked a diagonal pass to Jonas Hoog, who finished clinically from close range.
Norton nearly saw his angled effort deflect in, but Swindon netminder Dean Skinns breathed a sigh of relief as he was able to smother.
New signing Tomas Fojtik’s first significant contribution was to be handed a 2+10 for checking Norton from behind, and moments later Ferrara nearly took advantage on the powerplay, only to lift over from two yards.
Although Phantoms were in command heading into the first break, Nell nearly doubled the lead with two efforts, being denied by Damien King on both occasions.
A goal out of nowhere extended the Wildcats lead at 24.38, Paul Swindlehurst clearing from a defensive position and Michal Kapicka was left completely free to flick home.
A huge scuffle erupted minutes later that ended with Chris Jones being handed a 2+10 for checking from behind, while Paul Swindlehurst and Floyd Taylor were given 2+2s for roughing.
Nevertheless, Swindon survived and then delivered a further kick in the teeth to their hosts when Loris Taylor fed Nicky Watt and courtesy of clever stick work, he was able to beat King with a flourish (29.06) .
Swindon were later punished for failing to make the most of a five-on-three powerplay as Ferrara converted with 25 seconds left in period two.
It was a goal that seemed fairly inconsequential, and particularly in the light of Swindon’s excellent defence for the vast majority of the third period.
However, at 57.13 Tom Carlon took advantage of a two-minute holding penalty on Jan Melichar to bat down James Hutchinson’s delivery into the left corner.
Sladok somehow scored just in time to send the match to an added period, leaving the stage set for Norton to make the most of a two-on-one opportunity to lift high into the net.