Fojtik wins thriller for depleted Wildcats
CZECH ace Tomas Fojtik fired Swindon to a penalty shots victory over Slough to end a dramatic evening of hockey at the Hangar.
The towering D-man sent home the winner to hand the shortbenched Wildcats their first overtime triumph of the season following 10 failed attempts.
The match had been locked at 4-4 but Fojtik's effort gave Swindon a 5-4 victory and two points that allowed them to inch closer to the top half of the EPL table.
Short-handed early on, Swindon took the lead when captain Aaron Nell broke away one-on-one and mesmerised netminder Gregg Rockman (9.47).
At 33.00 Matias Perkkio found plenty of space in front of the net and stabbed into the corner from head coach Ryan Aldridge.
The Jets grabbed their first just over a minute later, courtesy of former Swindon transfer target Ciaran Long (34.03).
A third goal inside four-and-a-half minutes arrived when Sam Bullas found D-man Joe Baird in the slot and he squeezed the puck home (37.27).
Slough pulled a goal back in controversial fashion as netminder Tom Murdy was barged into the back of the net by Long and Frantisek Bakrlik tapped in (47.47).
Slava Koulikov then caught the visitors out to level the game (49.01) and the same man struck at 54.47 when he steamed in unnoticed and crashed high into the net.
With less than two minutes left, Nell grabbed his second of the night from Jonas Hoog and Ollie Betteridge (58.20), and Murdy's sharp save when one-on-one with Dan Davies in overtime ensured the game went to penalties.
Darius Pliskauskas appeared to have won it for the Jets until Hoog coolly tucked away Swindon's third attempt.
Aldridge, Loris Taylor and Betteridge all missed chances to win it before Alex Barker skilfully rounded Murdy, only for Jan Melichar to beat Rockman at the other end.
Michael Wales then spurned his opportunity for the hosts, leaving the stage clear for Fojtik to send home the winning effort.
Netminder Murdy, who made a number of crucial saves throughout the game, said: "It was a bit shaky in the third period, but the whole team stuck to the system and it was a good win.
"There were a lot of shots on me during the game but a lot of them were from outside and from easy angles, so the team played well.
"It was about time we won in overtime and it was a nice way to do it, especially as it was the 11th time.
"Penalties is a lottery sometimes, as a goalie you just have to try and get in the way and do whatever you have to do to stop it.
"To win was a weight off our shoulders, especially when you have had 10 overtime losses, you just want to get that first win."
On Saturday, Swindon suffered a disappointing 6-4 loss to lowly Sheffield at the Link Centre.
The Steeldogs took a 2-0 lead into the first break courtesy of goals from player-coach Andre Payette (3.15) and Lloyd Gibson (9.08), the second beating screened gloveman Dean Skinns from wide out.
However, the hosts hit back in fine style in the second period with a slapshot from Hoog (24.49) and a brace from Nell (30.47, 39.32) putting them in front.
Gibson levelled early in the third (44.37) but Hoog restored the one-goal advantage from a five-on-three powerplay less than 90 seconds later (46.00).
Three goals inside the final 13 minutes saw Sheffield storm to victory, with Greg Wood (47.19) netting with a shot from the blueline, before Andrew Hirst (52.34) and Stuart Brittle (56.08) completed the scoring.