TWO goals from import Jonas Hoog were enough for Swindon Wildcats to claim their first away win of the season with a 2-0 victory at Basingstoke last night.
On an evening when the Bison were entertaining prospective new sponsors for next season, the action was delayed by over an hour after it transpired a full compliment of referees had not been booked, but the wait didn’t seem to trouble the Wildcats as they came out firing.
The visitors looked fitter, hungrier and more organised than their hosts, and defended manfully when shorthanded to survive as a succession of players were sent to the penalty box.
The men from the Link Centre tired in the final period, but time and again Bison were thwarted by a superb display from netminder Dean Skinns as they held on to claim the points.
Both sides looked desperate to play after they eventually made it out onto the ice, and the Cats had the better of the early exchanges which allowed Nicky Watt and Hoog to get good shots away. Home netminder Stevie Lyle was equal to both, but there was nothing he could do as Swede Hoog picked up possession down the Cats’ left, and got his shot off quickly to find the back of the Bison net.
Skinns did well to save from Andy Melachrino to keep the scores level, before Joe Rand chipped an effort just over the top of the frame from close range as the visitors began to take control before Hoog was sent to the box for slashing.
Skinns kept the visitors ahead with two impressive saves before Michal Kapicka fired wide as the visitors created the first opening of the second period, but they were soon shorthanded again as Joe Baird was sent to cool off for blocking.
Carl Graham was binned for tripping, but despite having the man advantage it was the Wildcats who found themselves on the defensive and Skinns was forced to make a vital block as Greg Chambers raced through on the net.
The penalty theme continued after captain Aaron Nell and Nicky Watt were sent to the box for roughing alongside Joe Miller of the Bison, and within seconds of the Wildcats skipper returning to the ice he had a hand in Hoog’s second goal as the Swede rammed home.
Jan Melichar was the next to be penalised for holding, and despite the hosts ending the second period with Miller in the bin, the Cats had to rely on a superb block once again from Skinns to deny Owen and keep their lead at the start of the final session.
Watt spent a second spell in the box for interfering with a Basingstoke attack, but once again the Cats shut their hosts out, with a succession of defensive blocks and saves from Skinns maintaining their lead.
Lee Richardson should have made it three for the Cats, but he was denied by an outstanding one-handed save by Lyle after the puck was cut back by Kapicka, but it didn’t matter as the visitors hung on for the win.