Cats send out a message after another weekend double
5:30am Monday 24th March 2014 in By Michael Reeves, Deputy sports editor
SWINDON Wildcats sent out a message to the rest of the teams in the EPL play-offs that they are side to beat as they ended the regular campaign with a magnificent seven victories.
The Link Centre side followed up Saturday’s 3-1 success over Basingstoke Bison, with a comfortable 8-2 win at basement boys Slough Jets.
It was a comfortable performance by Ryan Aldridge’s men in Berkshire and one that will see them face Milton Keynes Lightning in next week’s play-offs full of confidence.
However, Cats head coach Aldridge was not getting carried away by his team’s form.
“We just have to keep playing the way that we are playing,” he said. “We need to play good team defence, our third line is scoring for fun right now.
“We are not putting too much pressure on ourselves, we are taking it game by game, because it makes us a lot more focused and more relaxed.
“We know what we are capable of but we are not going to put too much pressure on the guys.”
With MK Lightning awaiting Cats next weekend, Aldridge is hoping that Swindon can take a lead into the second leg at the Skydome in Coventry on the Sunday.
“We knocked them out before a couple of years ago, if we can get a lead on the Saturday that would be great but we just need to play a solid game and take it into the Sunday as well,” he said.
“It would be nice to go into the second leg with a lead, a big one at that, but we can’t go out gung-ho.”
It was all a little too easy for Cats at Slough, they never really needed the kind of intensity levels that had seen them win their previous six matches.
Yes, Jets are bottom of the table and had little to play for, but with the play-offs looming, the Link Centre side knew that they had to into them on the back of a win.
Goals from Jan Kostal and Aaron Nell gave the visitors a comfortable 2-1 lead at the end of the first period after Kamil Tvrdek had struck for Jets.
Sam Bullas struck twice in the second period for Aldridge’s and he assisted Sam Smith for his goal, but the goal of the match belonged to Aku Pekkarinen as he drilled the puck home from range, while Adam Harding got the visitors’ seventh and Stephen Balmer pulled a consolation goal back for Slough.
Back-up netminder Michael Crisp was given the final period for Cats and he made several fine saves in what was a quiet 20 minutes to end the regular campaign before Harding netted the eighth goal on 53.53.
Cats came into the match on the back of their sixth successive victory when they defeated Basingstoke Bison 3-1 at the Link Centre.
Having won their previous five matches in the EPL, Aldridge’s side were keen to maintain their fine form with the play-offs starting next weekend.
Lee Richardson, who grabbed his first goal of the campaign against Bracknell Bees the previous weekend, gave the hosts the lead when he tapped home from Henri Sandvik’s assist.
Nell quickly doubled Swindon’s advantage as he drilled the puck past Dean Skinns from range.
Ryan Watt added the third in the second period when he was on hand to tap home Sam Smith’s pass.
Crisp came on for the dying stages of the game against Basingstoke and despite making several saves, he was unable to prevent Stuart Mogg grabbing a late consolation goal for the visitors.