Hoog haunts Phantoms as Wildcats seal weekend win double
JONAS Hoog was at his brilliant best as he guided Wildcats to a penalty shots victory at Peterborough last night to earn the Link Centre side their first four point weekend of the season.
The powerhouse Swede struck a hat-trick in regulation time, including a last minute equaliser to level matters at 3-3 and take the game to overtime, and after the extra period didn’t produce a winner last season’s EPL leading scorer stepped up to slot the winning penalty.
Hoog’s performance was backed up by the equally spectacular Stevie Lyle between the Wildcats’ pipes, as his string of stunning saves kept the Wiltshire side in a contest in which they were forced to come from behind three times.
Last night’s success coupled with Saturday evening’s 5-1 win over Telford means the Cats have taken seven points from a possible eight at the start of the season, and head coach Ryan Aldridge was pleased to be able to toast a good weekend’s work.
“Whenever we get four points it’s obviously a big bonus, especially coming to Peterborough because it’s hard to play here with the boards being so uneven,” he said.
“A couple of the boys have stepped up really well this weekend with Stevie Lyle being exceptional and Jonas (Hoog) playing four very good periods of hockey, and we have to be happy with that.
“I think Jonas has started the season a little flat and we had words after the first period on Saturday and a little after the second, and he’s been phenomenal since and I can’t knock him.
“Jonas gives you a chance to win every night and with Stevie in net we are always in safe hands, but there are still areas we maybe need to improve on.”
What turned out to be an eventful opening session began quietly as the first eight minutes passed with Lyle the only netminder really tested, but his he had no answer when Will Weldon was on hand to slam home the puck following a superb pass from behind the net by Tom Soar.
The rest of the period was shaped by a fight between former Wildcat Nicky Watt and Sam Smith, which left the current Wildcats man with a gash to the head which forced him off the ice for treatment while Watt’s game was over as he was given a match penalty for fighting.
Alex Symonds and Marc Levers each got two minutes for roughing and with a two man disadvantage the Phantoms couldn’t hold out and Hoog was able to slam the pick into Damien King’s lower left corner with assists coming from Aku Pekkarinen and Sam Godfrey.
The parity didn’t last long as Erik Piatak was on hand to finish well just 30 seconds later to ensure the home side led at the first break.
Aldridge opened the second period with a will struck shot from the blue line which was bundled wide, but when presented with the opportunity to move into space and let fly from range, Hoog went one better than his coach and popped the puck into King’s top right corner to level matters once again.
Ollie Betteridge and Juha Silvander both saw efforts fly wide as Cats’ dominance became more and more evident, and it looked as if they had taken the lead for the first time but King was able to stop Henri Sandvik’s shot right on his line.
Smith, Shane Moore and Adam Harding all saw shots miss the target before the end of the period as Wildcats failed to turn their undoubted upper hand into the advantage their play deserved.
After a second period free of any penalties a spate of action was taken at the start of the third, and with Pekkarinen in the bin the Wildcats fell behind once again as Marcel Petrain fired through Lyle’s legs following assists from former Cat Jaroslav Cesky and Adam Ferrara.
It looked as though Wildcats were going to fall to defeat before Hoog fired in a speculative effort from an acute angle to take the game to overtime, and after a frantic extra five minutes the match went to penalties.
Ferrara, Silvander, Piatak, Harding and Cesky all missed their efforts as the wait for a winner went on, but Hoog did what he does best as he found the net to win the contest and secure a perfect weekend.
Saturday night’s game at the Link Centre burst into life after a scoreless opening period, with Sandvik cutting inside and firing home to open the scoring moments into the second despite falling while getting his shot off.
Adam Taylor levelled for the Tigers but Hoog found the net for the first time a few minutes later before turning provider for Sandvik, with the Finn adding his third quickly after.
With a goal and assist already to his name Hoog was picked out at the back post for a tap in which completed the scoring and put the gloss on a good night’s work.
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