SWINDON Wildcats kicked off their Streaming Series campaign with a thrilling 8-6 victory over Milton Keynes Lightning last weekend.

In front of a 1,690-strong virtual crowd on Saturday, the Wildcats took to the ice in the first game in the UK since the first national lockdown and did not disappoint those fans who had tuned in.

It took the hosts nearly nine minutes to score their first goal in eight months without hockey when Matthew Myers found room above the shoulder of MK Lightning netminder Jordan Lawday.

The visiting Lightning tied the game up through a Bobby Chamberlain shorthanded goal at 13:50.

Only 26 seconds later though, the Wildcats re-took the lead through a very well taken powerplay goal from Toms Rutkis, who fired home from the high slot to give the Cats a single goal advantage heading into the first period break.

There were three goals in the opening five minutes to start the middle stanza. First Tomasz Malasinski scored his first of the night before Russ Cowley tied the game up again through a superb one time slapshot from the blue-line.

After MK took a couple more penalties, the Cats retook the lead again at 24:01 when Myers and Ben Davies combined to feed head coach Aaron Nell, who fired in to convert the five-on-three chance.

Chamberlain would then score two goals in 45 seconds near the halfway stage of the game to ensure the middle period finished 4-4.

However, four Wildcats goals in the final period would prove crucial as the Cats took their first win of the season.

Firstly, at 41:27, Davies ensured the Cats took the lead again, before two goals from MK’s Hallden Barnes-Garner and then Ross Venus saw the Wildcats fall behind for the first time in the game.

Once again though, it only lasted less than a minute when 31 seconds after going behind, Toms Rutkis scored his second of the evening with a sublime finish to tie the game up at 6-6.

With the prospect of overtime looming, Malasinski broke through on goal and restored the Wildcats single goal advantage.

The final goal of the evening came through at 53:45 when Rutkis completed his hat-trick thanks to a nice feed from Myers.

Looking to stamp their authority on the mini-tournament, Sunday evening saw the Cats travel up to Sheffield to take on the Steeldogs.

However, the Cats were unable to make it two wins from two after leaving Yorkshire off the back of a 5-1 defeat, with the solitary Swindon goal being scored by Myers.

Alex Graham netted a brace for Sheffield while goals from Ben Lake, James Spurr and Tim Smith completed the emphatic result.

This coming weekend sees the Cats travel to Milton Keynes to take on the Lightning on Saturday (7pm) before completing their Streaming Series fixtures against Sheffield on Sunday at the Better Link Centre (6:15pm).