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Unbeatable Skinns spurs on Swindon Wildcats in Sheffield
DEAN Skinns delivered a timely reminder of his capabilities before praising the Swindon team as a whole for their 5-0 drubbing of Sheffield last night.
The netminder stopped 43 shots in total in the EPL road game and provided head coach Ryan Aldridge with telling evidence that he is desperate to remain between the pipes despite Tom Murdy's imminent return from injury.
After his second clean sheet of the season, Skinns said: “Any time you get a shutout it’s something special and especially on the road is extra-nice, although the win is the most important thing.
“When you do get a shutout it’s normally more around the 25-shot mark, so to have 43 is great for me.
“But I think the whole team played well today from the defence to the forwards, we didn't really give Sheffield too much.”
Missing Nicky Watt and Jamie Hayes up top and Shane Moore at the back, Swindon nevertheless made a flying start and were two goals to the good with less than a minute and a half played.
Lee Richardson got Swindon started after just 37 seconds when he was generously allowed the freedom of the right side of the rink and coasted in to flick high into the net, with the assists coming from Jan Melichar and Aldridge.
At 1.18, a second arrived and Sheffield were visibly stunned. More pressure resulted in gloveman James Flavell blocking from Matias Perkkio, but Aaron Nell was there for a simple tap-in. Jonas Hoog collected an assist as well.
The hosts were clearly frustrated and this showed when player-coach Andre Payette chose to have words with opposite number Aldridge, but nevertheless they worked their way back into the match without forcing Skinns to work too hard.
It was Wildcats who continued to have the better chances heading into the first break, with Perkkio and Richardson both going close - the latter in particular should probably have scored as he was unmarked at close range.
The away side’s task in period two was consolidation but they managed to do even better than that, as again a goal arrived early in the period.
Hoog seized on the puck, pirouetted away from his man and fired emphatically into the top corner, leaving Flavell rooted to the spot (22.03).
Sheffield’s response was moderate but they did at least make Skinns work to keep his slate clean.
First Greg Wood lost control of the puck when bearing down on goal and then Skinns smothered after Edgars Bebris went round the back and tried to sneak the puck in at the near post.
Lloyd Gibson picked Stevie Whitfield's pocket but found Skinns in uncompromising mood, before Steeldogs cranked up the pressure following Floyd Taylor’s boarding penalty, with only fine scrambling keeping them out.
Swindon began the third period in positive fashion and when Hoog crashed off the pipes it looked as if more goals would follow - and they did.
Nell sent home an easy goal after the puck came to him unmarked and close in, beating Flavell low to his left (47.26).
The rout was completed at 51.38 when Fojtik fired goalwards and Hoog was denied, but Perkkio slotted into the net from a narrow angle.
Richardson hobbled off with what appeared a leg problem late on, but it was a small black spot on an otherwise hugely positive night.