By Jake Clements
The Bristol Pitbulls saw all their good work the previous night extinguished by a much-improved Swindon Wildcats side which saw the hosts come away 7-3 victors.
Jamie Elson’s men showed vigour and promise in their 6-1 win against the same opposition on Saturday, but Sunday came out with a whimper.
The Cats opened the scoring inside the opening 3 minutes when Colby Tower forced a turnover in the Pitbulls zone and the Canadian made no mistake.
Courtesy of a flurry of penalties, the Pitbulls found themselves level mid-way through the opening frame. The away side, playing in their own arena, took full advantage of the two-man advantage when Ed Bradley slid a shot passed Renny Marr in the Cats net. Bradley’s shot wasn’t the cleanest as his stick was checked as he let the puck go but the change up was enough to see him pick up his 3rd of the season.
After tying up the game, the cats took their play up to another level and the score only remained even thanks to some heroics from young netminder Ben Norton. He made several excellent saves before the cats inevitably put another one past him. Picking up a powerplay goal of their own, the Cats Hungarian winger, Balint Pakozdi, found twine after the Pitbull’s failed to clear the zone on several different occasions.
They doubled their advantage two minutes later. Gael Lubwele was given the freedom of Bristol, and he wired a wrister high over the blocker of Norton after he was allowed to skate right into the high slot.
The Pitbulls were lucky top just be two behind when the buzzer sounded with their Southwest rivals enjoying the vast majority of the play in the away sides zone.
Before the buzzer expired in period number one, the Pitbull’s took two penalties giving the Cats a wonderful opportunity to extend their led early in the second. But a stellar display of penalty killing kept the score within touching distance which can only be matched by an equally stunning save by Marr to prevent Lewis scoring on a two on one opportunity.
The Cats added their fourth eight minutes into the period. Another powerplay goal saw Tower finding twine for the second time this evening. His shot from the left face-off circle found the top corner of the Pitbulls net to put Swindon in absolute control.
The Pitbull’s fought back though and found a goal of their own on the Powerplay. Nik Coric fired a wrister from the left circle, over the shoulder of Marr and in. Bristol had moved the puck well on the powerplay and were rewarded with Coric’s 6th of the season and his third of the weekend.
Penalties were handed out left, right and centre through the second but no one lit the lamp meaning the score remained 4-2 at the second interval.
The third period was underway and within moments of the restart the Pitbull’s were down a man and on the kill, and a minute later the puck was in Ben Norton’s net once again.
This time it was off the stick of former Poland captain Tomasz Malasinski. Russ Cowley played the puck to the Pole in the right face-off circle, and no one closed him down, allowing him to snipe past Norton to restore their three-goal advantage.
It went from bad to worse three minutes later, when Sam Godfrey tapped in at the back door after Pakozdi had streaked to the net, forcing a rebound off the pad of the Pitbulls netminder.
There would be no five-on-five goals for the Pitbulls in the game, but they would see themselves pick up a tally with just four skaters on the rink. Tanner Butler put on a one man show and stripped the Cats of the puck in the neutral zone
before skating it in tight and roofing a back hand to give the ‘travelling’ fans something to cheer about.
The home crowd were back on their feet eight minutes from time, as the Cats profited on yet another powerplay, Chris Jones rounded off the scoring from a Malasinski cross ice pass.
The last 8 minutes came and went, and the buzzer sounded to condemn the Pitbull’s to their 7th regulation loss of the season.
They return to the Pound next week hoping to leave this one far behind them. Raiders IHC stand in their way next week, another double header, with home puck drop being at 7pm on Saturday.