The Play-Off Britton Conference Semi-Finals saw the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees drawn against the league winning Swindon Wildcats for a place in the conference finals and National Finals.
Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 2 Swindon Wildcats 2
Bees iced at full strength for the home leg as did the Wildcats playing Jonas Hoog and sitting out Jan Kostal.
A scoreless first period played out at high intensity with Bees failing to convert a couple of powerplay chances.
In the second period, Bees took the lead after 6.20 when Aidan Doughty was left alone in space and was fed the puck to riffle one in past the impressive Renny Marr. Jonas Hoog waited just 3.13 to equalise as he scored a powerplay goal at 29.33 and a floating shot from Chris Jones was screened from Dean Skinns view at 38.19 to put the visitors ahead going into the interval.
The third period started with more Play-Off intensity and a scramble in front of the net saw Bees equalise as Aidan Doughty eventually got the puck across the line. Renny Marr had left a rebound but a combination of Marr and defenceman’s sticks denied Doughty until he eventually forced the puck into the net at 45.44 on the third attempt. Bees then had a goal denied which the Bees TV replays proved to be a good goal shortly after. Zack Milton put the puck in the net before being driven into the post and dislodging the net but the referee, who only has one view and one chance to make the decision, ruled no goal due to the net being off its mooring. With that goal disallowed Bees had to settle for a draw from the first leg with the result to be decided in Swindon.
Bracknell: Doughty 2+0; Antonov 0+2; B Baird 0+1. Net: Skinns (60.00) 28/2
Swindon: Hoog 1+1; C Jones 1+0; S Jones, Taylor, Bebris 0+1. Net: Marr (60.00) 33/2
Period Scores 0-0/1-2/1-0
Shots On Goal: 33-28
Penalty Minutes: 22-14
Referee: D Cuglietta. Linesmen: West & Strain
On Sunday the Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees travelled to Swindon for what would be the last game of the season for one of the teams.
Swindon Wildcats 3 Berkshire Cycles Bracknell Bees 6
A bright early start for the Bees saw them race into the lead with Ryan Sutton netting at 1.53 and Aidan Doughty scoring at 5.38 for a two goal lead. Jonas Hoog converted a powerplay at 13.40 but Tyler VanKleef restored the two goal margin at 16.13 for a 1-3 first period lead.
Hoog’s second goal, again on the powerplay, saw Wildcats reduce the deficit to one goal again then Roman Malinik scored a powerplay goal at 35.17, which would turn out to be the game winning strike, but the teams had to share the middle period spoils with Bracknell leading after 40 minutes.
Shaun Thompson scored at 43.19 for 2-5 before Sam Jones netted a powerplay marker at 46.53. As time wound down Renny Marr left the net with 1.24 on the clock but a minute later Malinik’s second secured the win and sent the Bees through to the conference final and booked a place at Coventry for the national finals weekend.
Swindon: S Jones 1+2; Hoog 2+0; C Jones 0+2; Taylor, Nell 0+1. Net: Marr (58.56) 24/5 & Empty Net (1.04) 1/1
Bracknell: Malinik 2+1; Doughty 1+1; Doughty, Sutton, VanKleef, Thompson 1+0; Knaggs, J Baird, Smith, Z Milton, Martin 0+1. Net: Skinns (60.00) 36/3
Period Scores: 1-3/1-1/1-2
Shots On Goal: 36-25
Penalty Minutes: 8-18
Referee: S Matthews. Linesmen: Strain & Edwards
Speaking after the weekend Doug Sheppard reflected; “This is the best time of the year, Play-off time, and our team is playing its best hockey of the year. We played the weekend with maximum intensity, every player left everything on the ice. We played well at both ends, we were good defensively, we blocked shots, and Skinnsy was on fire. We generated six good goals and we did everything we needed to win.
I’m glad we could reward a huge travelling support last night with a big win and also another home game next weekend in the Britton Conference Final as well as securing our place at Coventry. Our fans were unbelievable last night and every player fed from that.”