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SWINDON WILDCATS: Whitfield nets long-ranger in Cats win
STEVIE Whitfield scored an outrageous goal from his own defensive zone as Swindon dug in to hold off the challenge of Peterborough at Planet Ice.
Whitfield bagged Wildcats’ fourth in the 5-2 win, a clearance from the face-off circle which somehow bounced past Damien King at the other end of the rink.
Youngster Ollie Betteridge wrapped up the win in the closing minutes but it was Whitfield’s goal - his first for the EPL side - that provided the main talking point after the final buzzer.
The D-man said: “It wasn’t the way I’d imagined scoring a first goal. I’d quite like to have stepped in from the blue-line and put it in the top corner, but I’ll take it.
“It was extremely lucky. We were short-handed so I just looked up and chucked it on net and skated towards the bench, and everyone was cheering. I turned round and it was in the net.
“Those shots are quite difficult for a goalie to handle, but it was just a bit of luck really. I think King will probably want that one back.”
Whitfield was delighted that Swindon had managed to take two points in spite of the defence not having its best night.
“Peterborough are always disciplined in their own rink and we knew we were going to have to play a bit ugly to get it done,” he said.
“Ideally we’d want the D-zone to be a bit better than it was, but in the end I think we deserved the win.
“Quite often we found ourselves losing a player and Skinnsy (netminder Dean Skinns) had to make a point-blank save. He was exceptional.”
Lewis Hook fired a wristshot off the bar in the opening exchanges, but it was Swindon that went in front on the powerplay at 3.28.
Moments after Skinns had saved smartly from Maris Ziedins, Aaron Nell had plenty of time to send a low slapshot past King.
The Phantoms then had a goal chalked off and Skinns was a relieved man as he had dropped the puck to set it up, before Will Weldon pinged off the post from close in.
Peterborough’s frustration was compounded when Nell, moments earlier laughed at by the home supporters for losing his footing, sent another slapshot low into the corner (7.42).
Nell could have had his hat-trick with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the first period, only for his effort to be ruled out.
The skipper burst through one-on-one and sent the puck high past King’s left shoulder, but it bounced back out off the pipes from inside the net, giving the officials cause to think it had never gone in.
Swindon survived a five-on-three to close out the period and Skinns once more distinguished himself under immense pressure.
After that, period two was something of an anti-climax. It started so well at 23.04 as Swindon extended their lead, head coach Ryan Aldridge’s pass to Matias Perkkio breaking to Henri Sandvik behind him, and the latter shot low into the net.
Ondrej Lauko pulled one back at 26.31 from Hook’s pass, but after that the game degenerated into a series of squabbles between just about everyone on the ice.
Sandvik suffered the most after being given a 2+10 for checking from behind, but against the run of play Jonas Hoog missed a great chance to make it 4-1.
When the recalled Jan Melichar was called for interference late on, Peterborough pounced. Ziedins popped up in front of the net and hacked the puck home on the powerplay just two-and-a-half seconds before the second break.
But the Wildcats dealt an even bigger blow in period three.
Paul Swindlehurst was handed a 2+2 for slashing and roughing, but somehow his side still managed to break through courtesy of Whitfield’s fortunate finish (46.21).
Peterborough seemed a beaten side after that and Nell had a couple of chances to extend the advantage with one-on-ones.
However, ultimately it was Betteridge that dealt the telling blow, netting from Hoog’s pass at 55.29.