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Match report: Swindon Wildcats 5 - 3 Bracknell Bees

posted 1 Jan 2018, 13:38 by john slater

Match report by Ashley Willitt

To close out the festive period the Bees headed into Wiltshire to take on M4 rivals the Swindon wildcats once again in the NIHL cup. On the back of Saturday nights home victory against the 'Cats, Bracknell were hoping to make it back to back wins in the second of 3 straight games against Swindon.

Facing Bracknell in goal for Swindon was former Bee Matt Smital, while in between the pipes for the Bees was popular goalie Danny Milton. With the armbands was referee Stephen Mathews, assisted by linesmen Justin Lalonde and Alisdair Macphee.

As the puck dropped for the start of the game Swindon were on the offensive straight away with Sam Bullas creating himself a breakaway chance, comfortably saved by Milton. As the period settled in as did the Bees, with Alex Barker testing Smital but only finding the Swindon goalies chest. Moments later and a shot on Smital was mishandled and Josh Martin was gifted an opportunity but the Wildcats goalie was able to recover and deny the Bees forward. The game was fairly even with both sides having chances and with both goalies standing up strong. Swindon were awarded a penalty shot halfway through the period following a foul on Jan Kostal. The 37 year old Czech forward came in straight on Milton but the Bees goalie held his ground and stopped the shot as Kostal aimed between his legs. With the momentum now in the Bees favour a feed from Bakrlik across the crease found Barker creeping in at the back post and after a couple of attempts, got his shot away and beat Smital, giving the Bees the opening goal.

The second period showed more solid play by Bracknell, however it was Swindon who managed to level the score almost 4 minutes in. A shot in from the face-off circle seemed to be covered by Milton but a large deflection from Sam Godfrey saw it sail unfortunately into the back of the net. The Bees top line of Bakrlik, Baker and Carl Thompson produced a triple save from Smital as all three Bees had a shot each following rebounds. In the 25th minute Bracknell found themselves on a powerplay following a trip on Bakrlik by Neil Liddiard. The resulting face-off was won by Bracknell and a pass across ice to Tom Avery was dutifully smashed home and through the legs of Smital giving the Bees back the lead. The ever hard working Thompson had a great chance to increase the lead just moments later as once again Smital miscontrolled the puck, but the Wildcats netminder managed to scramble back to save a weak shot with a sprawling pad. If Smital looked uncomfortable, at the other end Milton looked incredibly composed, giving away no rebounds and saving with every part of his body.

The start of the final period and the Bees continued to be the better team. That was evident with just 42 seconds on the clock for the 3rd and a Scott Spearing slapshot found its way past Smital giving the Bees a 2 goal cushion. Despite all of Miltons hard work in the Bees net he couldn't do a lot about Swindon's second goal of the night, as some diligent work behind the net by Nottingham Panthers prospect Jordan Kelsall set up Edgars Bebris who tucked the puck high up under the bar and between Miltons shoulder and head. With the change in fortunes also came a change in momentum in the latter stages of the period. Shots were piling up against Milton and the pressure against the Bracknell defence was just too much as Swindon leveled the game through Floyd Taylor after he powered down the right of the ice and cut inside and was just too strong and snuck the puck in between the post and the left pad of Milton. Just seconds later, and following a Bracknell time out, Swindon got the go ahead goal through Whitfield, again after a deflection, this time from an Aaron Nell slapshot/pass. Swindon put the icing on the cake and compounded Bracknell misery with a 5th goal through man of the match Floyd Taylor.

From 3-1 up to 5-3 losers, Bracknell just didn't have the legs to beat Swindon two games running. But once again, a lot of positives can be taken for the remainder of the season and another good showing from Dan Fay paired with Bendik in the Bracknell defence highlights the success of the Bracknell youth system.

Match stats
Period Scores: 0-1; 1-1; 4-1
Wildcats scorers: Taylor 2+0; Bebris 1+1; Godfrey & Nell 1+0; Kelsall 0+2; Bullas, Power, Johnson, Hill, Whitfield, Birbraer & Nethersell 0+1
Bees scorers: Spearing 1+1; Barker & Avery 1+0; Best 0+2; Bakrlik, Norcliffe & Bendik 0+1
Wildcats PIMS: 10 (Birbraer 4; Bullas, Liddiard & Bebris 2)
Bees PIMS: 8 (Spearing 4; Stead & Bendik 2)
Shots on Wildcats (Smital): 35 (10, 16, 9)
Shots on Bees (Milton): 47 (11, 16, 20)