TYLER VanKleef devastated Raiders on Sunday night by netting an exceptional hat-trick in only 17 minutes as Swindon Wildcats confirmed a timely four-point weekend by beating the capital outfit 3-8.

An eventful first period saw Aaron Nell, Edgars Bebris and Chris Jones light the lamp for the visitors, though bottom half Raiders dug in and trailed by only a goal at the end of the first 20.

Edgar Bebris netted a second to stretch Cats’ lead to two, and then came VanKleef’s brilliant hat-trick to take the game away from the trying hosts.

Polish import Tomasz Malasinski rounded off Cats’ scoring before Blahoslav Novak scored Raiders’ consolation goal with minutes remaining.

There is no hiding the fact that Wildcats will need title hopefuls Telford Tigers to slip up several times between now and the end of the season in order to have a sniff of lifting the season’s ultimate piece of silverware.

But discussing the weekend just finished – which included a confidence boosting 4-3 win over Bracknell at the Link on Saturday – Nell voiced his delight regarding how his players performed.

He said: “I’m very happy with the team, I thought we were excellent on Sunday (against Raiders) from start to finish.

“We really deserved what we got, it was exactly how we want to play. At 3-2, Renny (Marr) made a great save on the penalty kill and we scored two or three shifts after that.

“It was nice for Tyler (VanKleef) to get his hat-trick. When you’re ahead, it can be tough to play but I am happy with the way we did.

“When we play responsibly and well defensively, we are an excellent team.”

Wildcats now have a rare Thursday night home game to look forward to as Telford Tigers visit Wiltshire to contest the first leg of the NIHL National Cup semi-final.

The mouth-watering tie will be followed by the second leg in Shropshire on Wednesday, January 29.

And putting eight goals past Raiders this evening has no doubted granted Nell’s roster a confidence boost ahead of their important semi-final test.

He added: “It’s a huge win because we are trying to stay in touch with Telford as best we can, though I know they are way ahead.

“The most important thing for us was to make sure we are feeling good going into Thursday and make sure we are playing the right way. I’m certainly happy with the team and we’ll have a good practice on Thursday and try to establish a good lead for the second leg.

“It will be an excellent game on Thursday, all games against Telford have been. It’s easy to see why they are top of the league. We’ll need to match their intensity.”