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Match report: Swindon Wildcats 5 - 2 Bracknell Bees

posted 30 Oct 2017, 12:52 by john slater   [ updated 30 Oct 2017, 14:10 ]

Match report by Ashley Willitt

The Bees took the short trip down the M4 on Saturday night to face the Swindon Wildcats in the NIHL National Cup. Buoyed by the return of Steve Osman, Alex Barker and star forward Shaun Thompson, Bracknell hoped to improve on their cup form to match their results in the league.

Starting netminders were Renny Marr in the Wildcats goal and Alex Mettam for the Bees. Running the lines were Elliot Marshall and Oliver Finch, while the man in the armbands was Blaine Evans. Bracknell were without influential player/coach Scott Spearing, while for the home team Toms Rutkis was still missing due to a broken jaw.

The first period was very close between the two rival sides, with both goalies having to make big saves. Mettam saving big chances from Chris Jones and Aaron Nell while Marr pulling off some big stops from Thompson and Bakrlik. With a lot of petty stoppages in play, the game didn't really get a chance to have any flow to it with referee Evans keen to blow the whistle at every given opportunity. While on the powerplay, the Bees gave up a shorthanded goal after Mettam came to cut out a through pass to Max Birbraer and missed, gifting the Cats an easy effort with Jones hitting home to the vacated net. Marr was fantastic in the Swindon net and in one great passing move, what looked like a clear goal for Thommo, the Cats nettie flashed the leather and denied the Bees forward. Bees were certainly the busier of the two teams in front of the net, however some good man marking on Frankie Bakrlik denied any clear chances to get through. Several cheap penalties were called towards the back end of the period with referee Evans seemingly playing 'Penalty Bingo' calling stoppages that bemused both sets of players and fans alike. However, after several minutes of Bees powerplay pressure Bakrlik took a pass from Captain Matt Foord to shoot upstairs on Marr to bring the game level.

The second period was another evenly matched affair with both Thompson drawing a save from Marr and Nottingham Panthers prospect Jordan Kelsall bringing out the best in Mettam. The Bees forward lines were skating hard to make plays happen, Josh Martin and Steve Osman working well but with the later delaying too much before getting his shot away, which in the end was comfortably saved by Marr. A superb effort later by Osman, where he was behind the goal and flipped the puck between his legs, just hit the side of the netting. In another strong performance, Tom Avery found himself dancing his way through the Swindon forward line to then find the Wildcats defence part like the red sea, but again was too slow in getting his shot away, by which time Marr was in the right place to make an easy save. Ben Ealey-Newman, in a game where he was given plenty of ice-time, and Alex Barker combined well as a forward unit with the former having a great effort, once again denied by the Swindon netminder.

The final period was a little more feisty, with both teams keen to assert their physical dominance on the game. But just 5 minutes into the period, a shot from Birbraer was well saved by Mettam but the Bees goalie was unable to control the rebound and Joseph Hazeldine was first to the rebound who made it 2-1. This period saw the home team go up a gear and the Bees had to rely on Mettam to save them several times with Sam Zajac and Jan Kostal working well, but Mettam was equal to them. However that partnership did manage to beat the Bracknell nettie just three minutes after their second goal, with Kostal taking a pass from Zajac and beating Mettam. 

Swindon added a fourth 10 minutes later as Bracknell just couldn't break them down. A puck driven across the goal was saved by Mettam, but the resulting rebound found its way creeping across the blue paint with Birbraer first to it to poke it over the line. The Bees valiantly tried to pull the game back and took off Mettam in a hope that an extra skater could give them an advantage. However, as has been the case many times before, Swindon eventually broke free of their own zone and in the final minute Phil Hill put the final nail in the Bees coffin, making it 5-2.

A much better performance from the Bees, however they just came up too short against well drilled Swindon team and a superb netminding performance.

Match stats
Period scores: 1-1, 0-0, 4-1
Wildcats Scorers: Birbraer 1+2; Hazeldine 1+1; Jones, Hill, Kostal 1+0; Zajac, Kelsall & Liddiard 0+1
Bees scorers: Bakrlik & Thompson 1+0; Foord 0+2; Martin 0+1
Wildcats PIMS: 14 (Birbraer 6; Zajac 4; Johnson & Hazeldine 2)
Bees PIMS: 10 (Martin 4; Bendik, Stead & Osman 2)
Shots on Wildcats (Marr): 26 (9, 11, 6)
Shots on Bees (Mettam):
34 (9, 11, 14)