Aldridge praises Wildcats defence

This Is Wiltshire: Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge

RYAN Aldridge feels stubborn team defence earned Swindon Wildcats their 2-1 win at Sheffield on Sunday.

The EPL-Cup victory ended a run of three straight defeats and allowed Swindon to open up a three-point gap over ninth-placed Peterborough in the table.

Goals from Aldridge and Jan Kostal secured the win but the head coach felt a mean rearguard effort was the difference between the teams at iceSheffield.

“I think the key was not making any silly little mistakes,” said Aldridge.

“Their goal late in the second period (to pull it back to 2-1) could have hurt us but we saw out the period and then had time to regroup.

“We knew we didn't have to score another goal to win the game in the third period, we just had to be smart and not do any high-risk plays on our powerplay.

“Everyone stepped up to the plate defensively, took the body and blocked shots. I think Jan probably blocked three or four shots and they were big shots as well.

“When they had the goalie pulled at the end he made a great block because that shot could have caused us trouble.

“The boys bought into defence, played smart and played hard, got pucks in and got pucks out.”

Having watched back Saturday’s 4-2 defeat to Manchester and guided his side to victory over Sheffield, Aldridge admitted that bigger away rinks may suit Swindon’s style better than their own.

“I thought we played OK on Saturday but we made mistakes, and on Sunday we didn’t make mistakes even though Peterborough are the kind of team that can drive you into them,” he said.

“The bigger ice maybe suits our team better than the smaller pad at home. I don’t know why, I thought the team we built would have been good in our rink, but the bigger ice seems to suit us more.”

Wildcats now have just one more game before Christmas, a home fixture against Basingstoke on Saturday.

And Aldridge admitted that he and all the players were looking forward to hanging up their skates temporarily for the festive period.

“We all need a break, especially after the last little run we’ve had,” he said.

“We’ll come back after 10 or 12 days off and be regrouped and refocused, and have that energy and excitement to play hockey that will see us through until the end of the year.”

The NIHL Wildcats enjoyed two big victories in South 2 over the weekend. They won 6-1 at Peterborough on Saturday and triumphed 7-1 over London Haringey on Sunday.

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