CHRIS Jones’ hat-trick helped Swindon Wildcats take a big step towards the NIHL Cup semi-finals with a dominant win over London Raiders in the first leg of their quarter-final this evening.

Aaron Nell’s troops will carry a hefty eight-goal cushion with them to the capital tomorrow, looking to finish the job in the second leg and safely secure their place in the last four.

Player-coach Nell said: “I thought we were very good tonight. Our goal tonight was to win each period so we are in a great spot overall.

“I am really happy with the team. I thought it was the most convincing we have played all year and it’s good to spread the goals around and get a big lead going into tomorrow.

“We moved the puck really quick and our transition was probably the best it’s been all year.

“We kept it simple. When we try to throw pucks across the ice and make what I call ‘hope plays’, they don’t work.

“We kept it close tonight, we had great centre support and we were hitting the blue line with speed and that is what caused the goals.

“We need to make sure we play the right way tomorrow and try to get another win.

“We have got big games coming up and if you take a dip, you struggle in the next game, so it is important to go there and try to win again.

“We need to make sure we play hard, be ready and don’t get into bad habits.”

Goals from Max Birbraer and Sam Bullas saw Swindon take control in the first period at the Link Centre before the home side ran riot in the second 20-minute session.

Jones got the ball rolling again for the Cats with a brace of strikes before player-coach Nell and Edgars Bebris also got in on the act to make it 6-0 heading into the final period.

Although the hosts could not continue with that high intensity as the contest drew to a close, they continued to be the ones to keep the scoreboard ticking over as Jones completed his treble.

There was still time for one more goal as Toms Rutkis got his name on the scoresheet in the final minute to wrap up a dominant victory.