MAX Birbraer scored an overtime winner as Swindon Wildcats made it three wins out of three in the Autumn Trophy with a narrow success at home to Hull Pirates this evening.

The two sides could not be separated over the scheduled hour at the Link Centre but Birbraer snatched the extra point for Aaron Nell’s side in the fourth of the additional five minutes.

Swindon roared out of the blocks and broke the deadlock with less than 90 seconds on the clock, with Luc Johnson pouncing to convert a loose puck after Birbraer had seen an initial shot blocked.

However, the lead lasted less than a minute as Hull hit back immediately when Jason Hewitt rifled past netminder Matt Smital.

The home side were soon back in the ascendancy and Nell shot narrowly wide after linking up well with captain Jan Kostal before Johnson was denied by Pirates stopper Zack Brown after an excellent dart forward.

Kostal then saw a shot spilled by the visiting keeper but no Cats player was there to gather before Birbraer’s flicked effort was claimed by Brown.

Nell and Sam Bullas both went close as Swindon finished the period strongly but Smital had to be on his toes at the other end too, saving well from Sam Towner in the final minute as the sides headed back to the locker rooms all-square.

Hull started the better in the second period and Bobby Chamberlain was only prevented from putting them in front by the crossbar before Smital made a good stop from Joseph Gent.

At the other end, Phil Hill was twice denied by Brown, who also saved from Birbraer, while Jordan Kelsall lashed wide.

Just as the period looked set to end with no addition to the scoreboard, the visitors got their noses in front in the closing minutes as Lee Haywood let fly with an unstoppable strike.

Chris Jones went close to a leveller for the Cats shortly afterwards but the buzzer sounded with the hosts a goal behind.

Jones had Swindon’s first effort of the third period but found Brown in his way, while Smital saved well from Lee Bonner at the other end.

The Cats did not have to wait long to restore parity, though, with Stevie Whitfield beating Brown all ends up after Nell sprayed the puck across the ice.

The goal galvanised the home side and Nell and Sam Zajac both saw efforts batted away by the Hull keeper in quick succession, while Smital denied Kirk at the other end.

More chances came Swindon’s way as Birbraer darted forward and fed Jones but he could not apply the finish.

The hosts were given a glorious opportunity to snatch the win when Hull’s Hewitt was penalised with less than two minutes to play but that one golden opening would not come and the contest headed to overtime.

Swindon were able to find an extra gear when it mattered most and Birbraer emerged as the hero, darting forward before exchanging passes with Jones and tucking home from close range to bag the victory for his side.