Wildcats pick up maximum points from dramatic weekend
SWINDON Wildcats secured a four-point weekend and jumped back into the EPL play-off places after Ryan Watt struck in a penalty shootout to give them a 5-4 victory in Sheffield last night.
Following a dramatic encounter that saw two punch-ups in the opening 20 seconds, multiple momentum shifts and no lack of penalty minutes, Watt beat goaltender Dalibor Sedlar in sudden-death to give his team a vital win.
It was a fairytale ending for the former Braehead man who attracted the ire of Andre Payette in the warm-up, with the Steeldogs head coach informing the Scot in no uncertain terms of the physical punishment that was coming his way.
That was off the back of Watt's fight with Lubomir Korhon in Swindon's 8-1 thrashing of the South Yorkshire team at the Link Centre on Saturday, a punch-up that the Wildcats man easily won.
However, in the end last night it was Swindon head coach Ryan Aldridge who fought the giant Payette with just 20 seconds on the clock , while at the same time Watt busied himself with unleashing some ferocious punches on Lewis Bell.
After the regulation 60 minutes and overtime could not separate the teams, Watt stepped up to send home the winner and immediately charged over to celebrate in front of the jubilant visiting supporters.
"After everything that happened on Saturday and in the warm-up (on Sunday), I don't think it could have been scripted better for me to get the game-winner in the shootout," said Watt.
"Aldy asked me to take one before as the fourth or fifth shooter but I didn't want to, and then after a couple more Stevie Lyle asked me why I didn't shoot so I went up and it was good.
"It's a lot less pressure when you don't have to score, but to score and win it, I was pumped up.
"The fans were just as loud tonight as they were on Saturday. They came all the way up to support us so that's why I celebrated in front of them."
Watt also praised Aldridge for stepping in to fight Payette early on and said that the head coach's actions were pivotal in Swindon winning the game.
Speaking about the words exchanged between himself and Payette in the warm-up, Watt said: "He was just telling me he was coming after me and that he was going to take my face off, but whatever. Get on with it, play the game.
"Big respect to Aldy for jumping in and fighting Payette. If Aldy hadn't done that at the start of the game then I think they would have played even dirtier than they did.
"He definitely took one for the team because Payette is one of the toughest guys in the league, he's got the most fighting experience.
"Aldy did that for the team and he got everyone ready for the game and I think we won because of that."
Moments after Aldridge and Watt's respective bouts of fisticuffs, Lee Haywood gave Sheffield the lead on the powerplay from Andrew Hirst's pass across goal (0.27).
That advantage was doubled at 2.06 when Korhon forced past goaltender Lyle.
Two powerplay goals in the second period levelled the game up, Adam Harding teeing up Jan Kostal for his fifth goal of the weekend (25.57) before defenceman Alex Symonds tapped in after Sedlar couldn't hold Aaron Nell's shot (37.11).
Swindon then took the lead for the first time after wonderful interplay between Kostal and Henri Sandvik allowed the former to net (49.11), but the advantage lasted all of 22 seconds as Payette scored from a tight angle (49.33).
Jonas Hoog directed Nell's delivery home on the powerplay (53.38), only for Andrew Hirst to take the game to overtime at 57.55.
The visitors even killed a penalty in overtime but they were on the brink of defeat when Hoog stepped forward in the shootout.
Needing to score to send matters to sudden-death, Hoog dumped Sedlar on the deck and scooped the puck beautifully round his left pad.
Tomas Fojtik and Adam Harding then missed chances to win it while Lyle performed heroics at the other end, before Watt won the game for the visitors.
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