In the middle of the first period, Haringey hit some penalty trouble, giving the Wildcats a lengthy 5-on-3 power-play. Adam Finlinson converted high in the far-side top corner with the two-man advantage before adding a second on the nearside moments later when 5-on-4. Racers got on the board when Perry Richardson found Josh Ealey-Newman in front of goal with the talented youngster spinning to score past Graeme Bird. The Wildcats got lucky shortly after when two separate Drew Campbell efforts pinged off the post and crossbar with Bird beaten.
Haringey lost Luke Tull on a spearing Match Penalty near the end of the period and early in the second, on the extended power-play, Swindon notched up a third when Ian Shepherd saved Jordan Kelsall’s initial shot but could not stop the puck squirming into the goal. Finlinson completed his hat-trick firing high into the top corner to give the visitors a 4-1 lead at the end of the second period.
Racers fought back in the third session. Matt Brown fired home after Dan Clayton’s pass put him through on goal and Campbell made it 4-3 after Dan Peters found him from behind the net. This led to a period of sustained pressure from Haringey but the Swindon goal led a charmed life all game. In addition to shots hitting the pipework, netminder Bird fumbled many shots which either trickled the wrong side of the post or stopped on the line. He looked shaky throughout and surely won’t be so lucky in the return game. A late goal from Nathan Chilcott made the game safe for Swindon.
Racers scoring: Josh Ealey-Newman 1+0, Matt Brown 1+0, Drew Campbell 1+0, Perry Richardson 0+1, Dan Clayton 0+1, Dan Peters 0+1
Wildcats scoring: Adam Finlinson 3+0, Jordan Kelsall 1+1, Nathan Chilcott 1+0, Ben Nethersell 0+3, Kyle Smith 0+1, Daniel Sullivan 0+1
Shots on Goal: 28 on Ian Shepherd and 12 on Niks Trapans (Racers); 42 on Graeme Bird (Wildcats)Man of the Match: Matt Brown (Racers); Jackson Price (Wildcats)
Report by Tim Stuart