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SWINDON WILDCATS: Quickfire Sandvik leads the way for Wildcats
HENRI Sandvik smashed in the second-fastest hat-trick in the EPL this season as Swindon crushed Slough 8-5 at the Link Centre last night.
Finn Matias Perkkio bagged a brace on his return to the side following a three-week absence, but it was his fellow countryman who stole the show with a wonderful second-period blitz, in which he slammed in his three goals in four minutes, 55 seconds.
In period one, Perkkio announced his return to the side in perfect fashion, finding the bottom-left corner after head coach Ryan Aldridge had broken down the right and passed inside (3.28).
Czech defenceman Tomas Fojtik thought he had extended the lead following a huge goalmouth scramble, but that effort was ruled out as the net had moved before the puck crossed the line.
Aaron Nell was then sent to the box for high sticks and Slough immediately capitalised through Frantisek Bakrlik (9.22), from Pavel Gomeniuk and James Hutchinson.
Gomeniuk, no stranger to controversy against Swindon this season, was then handed a match penalty for an ugly high sticks incident with Aldridge.
Swindon got two bites at the double powerplay and made no mistake the second time round, Perkkio firing home Nell's pass from a narrow angle (15.02).
But 21 seconds later the Jets were level again as Michael Wales laid on the pass from which ex-Wildcats transfer target Ciaran Long converted.
The hosts went into the first break in control, however, when Nell was given the virtual freedom of the rink to blast a slapshot into the roof of the net off Gregg Rockman's pad (19.34).
The pace did not let up in the second period and if anything got more frantic, with Hoog making it 4-2 after Nell sent a clever pass across goal at 24.19.
Then a huge scramble in front of gloveman Dean Skinns resulted in Bakrlik hacking a reply into the net from close range (27.38).
From then on the second period was all about Sandvik, the Finn spinning into space from Paul Swindlehurst's pass and easily flicking into the net for his first (32.35).
Two minutes later the forward was at it again as he burst down the left, cut inside and somehow forced the puck past Rockman with very little target to aim at (34.28).
Taking the score out to 7-3, Sandvik completed his hat-trick on the powerplay at 37.30 and he had Hoog to thank for picking him out from behind the net, leaving the forward with a straightforward finish.
Slough replaced Rockman with Danny Milton in the third period but just over three minutes had gone when with Wildcats shorthanded, Hoog broke free and beat the new netminder low down (43.09).
With Ollie Betteridge and Tomas Fojtik serving penalty time, the visitors attempted to salvage some pride and Mindy Kieras tapped in at the post to pull it back to 8-4 (47.27).
Bakrlik completed his hat-trick at 49.50 in a goal Skinns was distinctly unhappy with, but that finished off the scoring for the night.
Both teams killed double powerplays inside the final 10 minutes and Swindon were left to celebrate a thumping victory.
Head coach Aldridge said afterwards: "I think it was nice to have Matias back in the line-up. Our forwards were a little bit more fluid and we had more depth up front.
"We played some exciting hockey at times and apart from the third period, we played a solid game.
"There were some really nice goals. Henri and Matias were on form and were definitely easy to play with.
"Henri brings the best out of Matias, they are both smart, unselfish and put the puck into the right areas."
Swindon’s attentions now turn to Sunday’s game at Peterborough as they have no game on Saturday.
Aldridge will be keen to follow up last night’s impressive win with a positive result on the road and put to bed the disappointment of the previous away game where Swindon lost 6-3 to lowly Telford.
Youngster Floyd Taylor will not be fit to play at the weekend as he is still suffering from a shoulder injury, while Aldridge is suffering no ill-effects after taking a whack in the face from the stick of Gomeniuk last night.