SWINDON Wildcats lost both matches to The Bees in last weekend’s final challenge matches before the NIHL season starts in earnest next Saturday.

Aaron Nell’s men were beaten 9-5 in a thoroughly entertaining tie at the Link Centre on Saturday. Swindon then lost 4-2 in Slough on Sunday.

Despite 14 goals being plundered in Saturday’s clash, it took until the 14th minute for either side to open the scoring as James Galazzi struck for the Bees.

Cain Russell equalised for the Wildcats, and Floyd Taylor put the hosts ahead in the first period. Josh Smith and Garry Simpson flipped the game on its head with successful strikes, only for Nell to square the game at three apiece.

Despite the spirited fightback, Swindon ended the second period behind as Dominik Gabaj and Michael Power both netted.

A see-saw start to the second saw Balint Pakozdi make it 5-4, only for Nicklas Ornmarker to restore the two-goal lead.

Import signing Emil Svec reduced the deficit to one once again, but from then on it was all Bees. Josh Martin netted the seventh while Smith added his second for his team’s eighth - Will Stead rounded off the scoring in the 57th minute.

In Sunday’s action, the Wildcats took to the ice without two of the club’s best players. Nell and Tomasz Malasinski both picked up minor injuries which prevented their inclusion.

The pair’s absence appeared to make little difference to Swindon as just 20 seconds of game time had passed before Pakozdi struck to put the Cats ahead.

The Bees responded shortly after, however, as Power scored twice before the buzzer.

Svec squared the game at two, only for Gabaj to finish a solo effort in the 27th minute and nudge the Bees in front.

The same Bees player struck two minutes into the third period as well to finish the game off.