The Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees started a home and away weekend on the road at Swindon to take on the Wildcats.
Swindon Wildcats 4 Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 5
An early powerplay goal for the Bees gave them the lead at 2.58 with Aidan Doughty finding the back of the net. Sam Bullas netted with a powerplay goal at 7.19 to level the game but a further special teams strike saw Shaun Thompson scoring at 16.32 while Toms Rutkis sat out a slashing penalty.
Tyler VanKleef scored his first Bees goal 1.51 into the second period for 1-3 and Josh Smith scored the Bees fourth at 25.28 but Toms Rutkis scored with 4.07 left in the period to end the middle frame 2-4.
A strong start to the final period saw Swindon pull back to within a goal thanks to a second powerplay goal from Bullas at 44.24 and a second goal from Rutkis at 53.06 tieing the game at 4-4 but Vanya Antonov popped up with the game-winner on the powerplay at 54.03 to seal the win.
Swindon: Bullas, Rutkis 2+0; C Jones, S Jones 0+2; Nell, Birbraer, Whitfield, Bebris 0+1. Net: Marr (58.50) 29/5 & Empty Net (1.10) 0/0
Bracknell: Antonov 1+2; Thompson, Vankleef, Smith 1+1; Mogg 0+2; Doughty 1+0; Malinik, Watt, B Baird 0+1. Net: Milton (59.41) 38/4 & Empty Net (0.19) 0/0
Period Scores: 1-2/1-2/2-1
Shots On Goal: 38-29
Penalty Minutes: 28-28
Referee: S Matthews. Lines: N Ormond & A Stanley
Following the road win the Berkshire Cycles Bees returned to home ice to home ice for their final game of the year with the Wildcats following for the second of the weekend’s clashes.
Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 4 Swindon Wildcats 2
Danny Milton got the start in net for the Bees while Wildcats started Renny Marr in their goal. Stephen Matthews took charge of the game.
Danny Milton made the game’s first save before two chances in quick succession tested Renny Marr. There were chances at both ends with Tyler VanKleef looking sharp on his home debut and completing a coast to coast run before testing Marr but the Wildcats netminder got enough to deflect it up and out of play.
As the first period reached its middle point Aaron Nell broke free and Ben Paynter came in on the backcheck but ended in the Bees net taking Danny Milton with him. Both regained their feet and continued.
Two penalties called on Aidan Doughty gave the Wildcats a four minute powerplay as he picked up goaltender interference and roughing at 10.26. The powerplay was curtailed when Sam Jones took a slashing minor at 12.19 sending the game to 4 on 4. Neither team made much of the open ice and Wildcats returned to full strength with Bees doing the same 7 seconds later.
Back at full strength, Max Birbraer cut through the defence and shot and the whistle blew as Milton covers the shot before Aaron Nell takes a whack looking for the puck. Bees then looked to strike ahead with a melee in front of the Wildcats net before a leap from Marr covered the puck and drew a whistle.
Brendan Baird shot with 41 seconds left in the opening period drawing a reaction save from Marr and Joe Baird shot wide as the buzzer loomed to end the first period scoreless and the teddies came out onto the ice.
The Bees swapped netminders for the second period with Dean Skinns replacing Danny Milton following the collision with Ben Paynter in the first period and they enjoyed a smart start to the second period with an early shot from Ryan Watt at the goal line taking Marr in the mask. He was ok and continued with Knaggs next to test the Swindon goalie and with 2.07 elapsed in the middle period Floyd Taylor took the Wildcats first penalty with a hooking call against him.
Roman Malinik shot from the blue line and Marr saved drawing a whistle but Bees won the face off and fed back to Malinik again who one-timed another shot on net but Marr again saved. Wildcats returned to full strength still with a 0-0 scoreline.
Tyler VanKleef’s backhand shot at 25.55 went wide but at 26.21 he wouldn’t miss as Bees scored the game’s first goal with Edward Knaggs and Brendan Baird combining to find VanKleef.
Tensions mounted after a Scott Spearing shot and a Marr save with some pushing and shoving in front of the goal crease.
Soon after Roman Malinik took a tripping penalty at 30.58 and a one-timer from Chris Jones was saved by Skinns with Bees taking the puck away. Josh Smith broke and shot with Marr making the save but the puck bobbled up in front of the net and Smith batted home the loose puck for 2-0 at 32.03.
Bees returned to full strength and Shaun Thompson tried twice in quick succession and Ryan Watt shot backhanded but Renny Marr hugged his post as he saved the chance.
Vanya Antonov tried just shy of the 39 minute mark and Edward Knaggs also shot with 45 seconds left in the middle period but the two earlier unanswered goals gave the Bees a 2-0 lead going into the second interval.
Swindon enjoyed their best start to a period in the third period. An early Bees chance to Vanya Antonov was followed by Wildcats’ chances from Chris Jones, Sam Jones, Jan Kostal and Edgars Bebris but nobody managed to breach the Bees goal line. Then Bees fought back and huge pressure saw the home team forge a 3-0 lead. Josh Martin shot and the rebound was fed back to Stuart Mogg who shot which Marr also saved but Martin was on the doorstep for the second rebound which he forced home at 46.38.
More chances came but it wasn’t until 54.11, when Brendan Baird took an interference penalty, that Swindon took their time out. On the re-start they elected to keep Marr on the bench to play 6 on 4 with the man advantage and an empty net.
The gamble worked and after a good powerplay plus the extra man to cycle around to Chris Jones found Sam Jones who scored stick side with 4.48 to play for a powerplay goal.
A too many men call on the Wildcats at 56.12 was followed by an icing call with 2.21 left to play. On the restart after icing Marr remained on the bench again and for a second time the empty net paid off as 5 on 5 allowed Chris Jones to score an officially shorthanded goal at 57.33 to leave the visitors behind by just a single goal.
Inside the final two minutes Renny Marr left the ice on the fly and Vanya Antonov hit the post before Wildcats collected the puck and Aaron Nell hit the post behind Dean Skinns before Roman Malinik battled from his knees to get the puck clear of the zone but at the expense of an icing call. With that Doug Sheppard called the Bees time-out.
Wildcats again gambled the empty net again but Roman Malinik won the defensive zone faceoff against Floyd Taylor and Bees worked the puck to Aidan Doughty who skated in and calmly found the back of the empty net at 59.51.
Bracknell: Smith, Vankleef, Martin, Doughty 1+0; Knaggs, J Baird, Antonov, Mogg, Malinik, B Baird 0+1. Net: Milton (20.00) 10/0 & Skinns (40.00) 19/2
Swindon: C Jones, S Jones 1+1; Birbaer, Rutkis 0+1. Net: Marr (57.32) 32/3 & Empty Net (2.28) 1/1
Period Scores: 0-0/2-0/2-2
Shots On Goal: 33-29
Penalty Minutes: 8-6
Referee: S Matthews
After the weekend Bees Head Coach explained delightedly; “That’s exactly what we needed, a well timed four point weekend against a tough opponent. It’s a great Christmas present for our fans and on behalf of the team and myself I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Our guys will now rest up this week and we’ll see you back on the first and second for the charity challenge.”