The Bespoke Guardians Swindon Wildcats endured a mixed weekend of results in the penultimate round of regular National Division games.

Aaron Nell’s men were hammered 7-2 against Basingstoke Bison on Friday night before recovering to clinch a 4-2 success at home to the Raiders on Saturday.

Friday night’s defeat paved the way for Telford Tigers to be crowned National Ice Hockey League National Division champions two weeks before the play-offs begin.

Missing key defenceman Declan Balmer as well as influential forward Tomasz Malasinski, the Cats found themselves a goal down at 11:09 thanks to an Aidan Doughty powerplay strike.

That goal proved to be the only one of the period, despite the Cats generating a couple of scoring chances late on through Nell and Balint Pakozdi.

In the middle stanza, the Wildcats fell further behind thanks to two goals within a minute. Firstly, at 24:05, Adam Harding used his strong forecheck to generate a chance in front of net, and the Welsh forward fired past Renny Marr to make it 2-0. Just 45 seconds later, Aidan Doughty scored his second of the game when his shot trickled through the pads of Marr to make it 3-0.

At 29:54 the Cats were able to pull a goal back through Pakozdi’s fierce strike into the top-left corner. But five minutes later, the Bison restored their three-goal advantage when Cain Russell notched.

George Norcliffe added the Bison’s fifth goal at 44:02 before the Cats did manage to get another on the board at 51:41 via Sam Godfrey. However, a poor night for Nell’s men was summed up by two Swindon powerplays resulting in two more Harding goals late on.

On Saturday, the Wildcats bounced back with a routine victory in front of the Link Centre faithful. Nell's tribe opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Reed Sayers was on hand to slide the puck in at the back post.

Two further goals followed between minutes 20 and 40 – both of which were scored by Chris Jones. The first came as a result of slick passing between Eddie Bebris and Oli Endicott, and the second emerged in the opening moments of a powerplay opportunity.

The Raiders struck twice in the final period with their own play-off ambitions to take care of, Lukas Sladkovsky fired low past Dean Skinns before Jake Sylvester hammered home with just under nine minutes to play.

However, Swindon struck the telling blow at 56:58 when Floyd Taylor pounced on a loose puck to slot into the net and set Nell’s men up for the final weekend against Sheffield Steeldogs and Peterborough Phantoms.