The second weekend provided many enjoyable aspects as the Spring Cup returned, with three of the five teams who hadn’t played all making their bow in the competition.
Swindon Wildcats and Telford Tigers were the big winners though, taking maximum points from their two games this weekend.
For Bees and Raiders, it wasn’t the start they wanted to the competition, but it gives them some much needed ice time they weren’t expecting this time a month ago.
SWINDON WILDCATS 6 BEES IHC 2
After last week’s two defeats, Swindon quickly got back to winning ways as they picked up a 6-2 win over Bees at the Link Centre.
Jack Goodchild finished off a Jordan Kelsall assist to put them in front in the first period, but was soon cancelled out just after the half hour mark when Josh Waller netted on the powerplay.
Wildcats were back in front 17 seconds later through Toms Rutkis before Reed Sayers added a third for his second in two games.
Josh Batch finished another off with a man advantage, allowing Swindon to end the second period with a strong 4-1 lead.
Further goals came from Balint Pakodzi and Matthew Myers shorthanded in the third to kill Bees off, despite a late consolation from Josh Kelly in the final few minutes.
TELFORD TIGERS 3 RAIDERS 2
Kieran Brown’s goal just before the half hour mark proved to be the game winner as Telford Tigers opened their Spring Cup campaign with a home win.
The deadlock was broken as Cole Shudra scored on the powerplay in the first period to put last season’s NIHL National League champions ahead for the only goal of the opening 20 minutes.
David Clements added a second, but Raiders reduced the deficit on the powerplay through Harry Gulliver, while Sam Jones sat for a cross check.
Brown’s goal made it 3-1 as he restored Tigers’ lead and although Glenn Billing found the net with just over nine minutes to go, Sean Easton’s side couldn’t make any advancement as Telford held on for victory.
BEES IHC 4 SWINDON WILDCATS 5 (OT)
An overtime winner from Aaron Nell settled the rematch for Swindon as they went into their idle weekend with four points in the bag.
A nine-goal thriller played out as Bees played their first game in their home of Slough Ice Arena, but couldn’t put a smile on the faces of their watching fans on the online stream.
Ivan Antonov put the home side ahead after six minutes, but within a couple of minutes later, Floyd Taylor had equalised for the Wildcats.
Ed Bradley restored Bees’ advantage and they remained in front until the end of the first, adding to it after the restart through Bobby Chamberlain, before Swindon reduced the gap to one through Toms Rutkis.
Nell’s side edged themselves ahead in the latter end of the middle stanza, with Balint Pakodzi scoring an unassisted leveller, followed by a Josh Batch powerplay finish.
Bees captain Stuart Mogg restored parity in the opening minute of the third, but no winner could be found as the game drifted into overtime, where Nell popped up on 1:46 into the extra period to claim the result.
RAIDERS 2 TELFORD TIGERS 5
Raiders were hoping for better luck at home on Sunday when Telford came to play, but once more, Tom Watkins’ side ended the game with the points in the bag.
Jake Sylvester scored with the first shot of the game for Raiders to give them an early which was only cancelled out after 17 minutes through Joe Aston.
The game remained deadlocked until the third period when Sean Barry put the Romford side in front again to kickstart a flurry of goals that helped the settle the contest.
Within a minute of Barry’s finish, Ross Venus got his first goal for Tigers before Sam Jones made it 3-2, swinging the pendulum away from Raiders.
Robert Lachowicz increased the lead further as the game moved into the last five minutes, with captain Jason Silverthorn applying the icing on the cake to complete another good night’s work for Telford.
There was a couple of last minutes changes the team rosters ahead of the games on Saturday when Raiders saw one sadly have to pull out, while Telford added two.
GB international Liam Stewart saw his hopes of turning out for Raiders dashed through a minor injury, which presented a longer term health risk to him, forcing him to make such a decision.
He said on Twitter: “Sorry Raiders fans. It was very short lived but I gotta take care of this situation in hope of a season next year. And ya never know, maybe one day I could be in a Raiders Jersey.”
Telford boosted their ranks with the additions of netminder Jordan Hedley from Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers stalwart Robert Lachowicz.
Hedley was drafted in as backup after Zack Brown, their regular netminder, had missed practice due to self isolation.
Lachowicz was meant to arrive in place of Ross Venus, who had told the club he couldn’t commit to the whole Spring Cup campaign. However, Venus’ later confirmed his situation had changed and remained in place, but Tigers decided to keep the Panthers forward on regardless.