A SUPERB team goal finished by Jonas Hoog proved to be the difference as Swindon Wildcats won their third straight game with a 3-2 success at Telford Tigers.
With 12 minutes to go Matias Perkkio picked up the puck and slipped it to captain Aaron Nell, who in turned chipped a nice pass into the path of Hoog who rammed home what turned out to be the decisive strike.
It was no more than the Cats deserved after edging an entertaining game of hockey, but they had to come from behind with goals from Nicky Watt and Perkkio cancelling out Juraj Senko’s opener.
Thomas Soar levelled things up seconds before the end of the second period, but Swindon dominated the final session as Hoog’s goal claimed two vital EPL points.
Coach Ryan Aldridge, who also played in the game, was impressed with the quality of the winning goal and was pleased to come away from a tough road game with a victory.
“Telford is always a tough place to come, especially in their new building because we didn’t really know what to expect,” he said.
“They have very small neutral zones which made it a bit like ping pong at times, but we are pleased to take the win from what was an entertaining game.
“They made it hard for us and took the space away, but we had our chances and maybe we should have had a few more goals from all the lines on the night.
“Jonas scored the goal really well under a lot of pressure and at speed, but he managed to sneak it in and it has won us the game.”
After a scrappy opening to the contest where neither side could get the puck under control, Cats had some defending to do as Tom Murdy saved well from Soar on what was his first appearance of the season. The Wiltshire side soon were on the attack, though, and the dual threat of Nell and Hoog began to cause problems, with each forcing a save from Declan Ryan.
It looked as if the home side had taken the lead despite a spell of Cats pressure, but after Scott McKenzie’s effort was ruled out for a crease offence, Shane Moore and James Preece were sent to the box for fighting in the aftermath.
From then on Cats dominated, and after twice being fed by Hoog, Nell could easily have given Swindon the lead but first struck over when clean through before forcing a good save from Ryan. Jan Melichar, Aldridge and Nicky Watt all had promising efforts on goal, but the period ended scoreless.
The visitors looked most likely to break the deadlock at the start of the second, but Murdy had to make an outstanding double save to deny McKenzie after Tomas Fojtik gave the puck away.
Watt was sent to the penalty box for slashing, and in his absence Cats fell behind as Murdy produced another double save to keep things level, but couldn’t stop the third effort as Senko rammed in from close range.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as within seconds of returning from the box Watt was on hand to equalise on 29:11 after an assist from Sam Bullas.
The momentum swung towards the visitors, and after Watt went close again, the forward found the net but saw his effort ruled out after the rebound came off netminder Ryan’s facemask.
They were not to be denied for long, though, and after shots from Nell and Hoog, Perkkio was on hand to force the puck back into the net to give Wildcats a lead they deserved.
It looked as though Aldridge’s men were going to go in at the end of the second period ahead, but after assists for Senko and McKenzie, Soar got free to force the puck past Murdy.
Despite the disappointment of being pegged back, Wildcats dominated much of the third period, and after Floyd Taylor had a goal ruled out, coach Ryan Aldridge had two decent efforts saved by Ryan.
Hoog and Nell caused the home side problems all evening, and on 48:32 the pair combined to allow the Swede to fire home what proved to be the winning goal and make it six points from the last three games.