The Bespoke Guardians Swindon Wildcats have secured their place in the National Ice Hockey League Final Four at the Coventry Skydome this weekend.

Following a regular season in which they defied the odds with all of the off-ice distractions and disruptions to finish in third place and qualify for the playoffs, the Wildcats made a strong start to the post-season.

They faced second-place MK Lightning in the first weekend, winning both games at the Better Link Centre and Planet Ice to put themselves in a strong position to make the finals weekend.

The second weekend proved to be tougher as Swindon lost narrowly to Raiders IHC twice in the second doubleheader of the postseason, but other results meant that they could qualify with victory over Telford Tigers on Saturday.

A wonderful performance that saw a convincing 6-1 win, teamed with a victory for MK over Raiders, saw the Wildcats heading for the finals ahead of their final match, which was a 9-3 defeat away at Telford.

The Final Four at the Coventry Skydome has already sold out as Swindon prepare to face Leeds Knights, with Telford Tigers playing Peterborough Phantoms in the other semi-final next Saturday.

Head coach Aaron Nell was left overjoyed by the way his players had performed to get them into the final four after such a trying campaign.

Speaking to club media after victory against Telford, he said: “The players were amazing tonight, the way we started the game in the first period, we stripped so many pucks and attacked the one power play and we got two good goals.

“We needed that tonight, we have had two great games at home in the playoffs and one really bad one, so I am really happy for the players.

“It was really difficult, this was a long week and speaking to the players they knew we weren’t good enough last week.

“You get to Thursday night and you see them and get a bit more confidence, they were great and they deserved that win.

“You couldn’t explain it [this season], it has been a long year for me, it has been a year since my surgery.

“I could not appreciate those players any more and it has been amazing.

“It was a great atmosphere out there and the players were up for it, the way we started the game was great and we just kept it going.”