SWINDON WILDCATS: Aldridge urges fans to be patient
HEAD coach Ryan Aldridge has urged fans to give Swindon Wildcats’ new top line time to blossom after the Link Centre side took three EPL-Cup points from a possible four on the opening weekend.
Aldridge, Jonas Hoog and new signing Juha Silvander joined forces for Saturday’s 2-1 win at Basingstoke and last night’s 2-1 overtime defeat at home to Slough.
While Aldridge was moderately content with the weekend as a whole, none of the top line got points under their belts and the head coach knows that is a statistic that must improve.
“We need to score more goals than we did. Juha has only just come in for the weekend and hasn’t been on the ice much, so he is learning how to play with Jonas and myself,” said Aldridge.
“As a line we were in their end down low but we just weren’t there enough, and we were a little bit mixed up in the neutral zone and the D-zone and that’s something we need to talk about.
“Juha is finding his feet but he was better tonight than he was on Saturday, but for imports who come in and have never played in the league before, it’s tough sometimes when you have played at a higher level and are used to having better guys around you.
“It’s going to take time for him to figure it out.”
Mindy Kieras handed Slough victory with just 24 seconds left of overtime last night, after Swindon had battled for much of the contest without Finnish defenceman Aku Pekkarinen, who was controversially given a game penalty for high-sticks early in the second period.
The Jets outshot their hosts 37-18 during the regulation 60 minutes and Swindon were heavily reliant on the heroics of Stevie Lyle between the pipes.
“I’m not sure we played our best all night,” continued Aldridge.
“We were looking for a win and it’s a cup game as well so we’re disappointed with the loss.
“Losing Aku made a huge difference because it took everything away from our powerplay.
“In the D-zone he’s phenomenal when he’s on the ice because of his calmness out there, so that was a massive loss.”
Slough went in front at 4.09 when a Sam Waller fizzing diagonal was tipped on by Ales Padelek and the puck slid past the wrong-footed Lyle and into the net.
The lead did not last long as the hosts equalised at 13.39, import forward Henri Sandvik beating Gregg Rockman with a wristshot low to the goaltender’s left.
With the period coming to a close, Swedish star Hoog was tripped by Kieras when through on goal and Wildcats could not make the most of the resulting powerplay.
The second period began in quiet fashion until the incident at 26.26 that saw Pekkarinen handed a match penalty and Ciaran Long slapped with a 2+2 for roughing.
Lyle was a busy man during this time and distinguished himself with three saves in quick succession, before Hoog was denied by the glove of Rockman on the rush.
The Jets killed a slashing penalty on Long before Aldridge and defenceman Alex Symonds both got themselves sent to the box for the same offence.
Wildcats saw out the remaining penalty seconds at the start of the third with Dan Davies the only visiting player to seriously threaten the net.
Another powerplay for an icing infringement was seen off by the home side before D-man Sam Godfrey did just enough to prevent Matt Towalski getting a clean shot off as he homed in on Lyle.
Kieras’ bin for delay of game gave Swindon a late opportunity to snatch the win but ultimately the game went to overtime, where Kieras reappeared in the slot to tuck away Darius Pliskauskas’ pass.
Swindon triumphed at Basingstoke on Saturday thanks to goals from Sandvik (19.03) and former Bison defenceman Symonds (35.12) on the powerplay.
Miroslav Vantroba had given the home side an early lead (6.28) before Wildcats hit back.
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