Swindon Wildcats: Ryan Aldridge bemoans play-off officials

Ice Hockey

Swindon Wildcats coach Ryan Aldridge criticised the standard of refereeing in the English Premier League after a contentious penalty call denied his side a play-off final place.

Swindon took Manchester Phoenix to overtime after drawing 3-3.

But while Aku Pekkarinen was off for two minutes for hooking, Frantisek Bakrlik slammed home the winner to send Phoenix through.

"The officiating is getting worse every year," Aldridge told BBC Wiltshire.

"They made a decision that changed the game. Last weekend it was embarrassing and it was again tonight.

"It's getting to the point where it makes you not want to play. Teams are here to try and win and the referees are making decisions that affect that.

"It sounds like I've got a bitter taste in my mouth but we were the better team."

Phoenix had finished the regular season at the top of the table, while fifth-place Swindon reached the semi-finals via an initial play-off win over MK Lightning.

Manchester's victory at Coventry on Saturday set up a final against Basingstoke Bison, who beat Guildford in the second semi, with Bison running out 5-3 winners.

"Before the game, I thought we would get something out of it," added Aldridge. "The way the boys have come on in the last two months has been amazing.

"Now we've got to sit down and re-group. We've got to get our focus back and start planning again."