A WORKING Zamboni might have been the difference between winning and losing for Swindon Wildcats after a frustrating 5-4 defeat at home to Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday night.

Despite making an encouraging start thanks to goals from Edgars Bebris and player-coach Aaron Nell, Wildcats’ 2-1 lead turned into a 4-2 deficit while the near-capacity crowd became increasingly frustrated with what they were witnessing.

As the ice pad at the Link Centre became more and more abrasive as the night wore on, Swindon’s attempted come back from 4-2 down would ultimately turn out to be in vain as countless chances went begging and pucks were mis-controlled.

Goals from Chris Jones and Nell squared the game up before an MK buzzer six minutes from time struck the decisive blow.

Nell denied the poor quality of the ice had anything to do with his side’s defeat, instead putting the poor night down to a lack of concentration when on the receiving end of a powerplay.

Cats’ player-coach said: “I thought the first period was one of the best periods we’ve played all season, but we should have been up by two.

“Their first goal was a fluke and then they played a good period.

“Then I agreed with the first call on the five-on-three moment, but I thought the second was harsh. They then get a full two minute five-on-three and they score.

“But we can’t let in the second of those two goals there because then we’re chasing.

“Yes, the ice gets bad but it’s the same for both teams. I felt we had more of the puck, but when you’ve got more of the puck it becomes more difficult in those conditions.

“It’s a tough game to evaluate because of the condition of the ice, and it’s a tough one to take. There’s not much else to say – it’s very frustrating.”

With no Sunday game to rectify the defeat, Nell said attentions immediately turned to Friday’s double header with Basingstoke Bison.

And with time running out to claim the league title, the player-coach said nothing other than four points will do.

“The players are going to have to stew on Saturday’s defeat, and there’s no real switching off at this point in the season.

“We’ve got to come out next Friday and win against a team that loves playing against us but doesn’t like us.

“We have got to go there and win, we’ve got no choice in the matter.”