10by10 moves on and we’ve reached the Swindon Wildcats. Returning forward Sam Bullas, back for his 9th season at the Link Centre, gives us his thoughts on his team-mates and the season ahead.
The feeling in camp is good at the moment, a few of the boys are down now and we’re still waiting for a few more to arrive. The local lads are altogether now and to start training properly again. A few of us gym together in the summer so we keep that connection going. Everyone seems really excited to get going.
The team is gelling really well so far. For the last few years we’ve kept a core of players and it’s really good to keep players you know and you’ve played with before. It makes the gelling process easier. Everyone is confident and excited to get going, we just want to get everyone down and hit the ground running.
We want to come top this year. In the past, we’ve always been a mid-table team but with the league structure changing we’re not looking anywhere else other than the top few places. Our eyes are on winning the league and we have to start the season with that motivation to allow us to start the season fast.
I hope the league structure is here to stay, it’s good for the younger players to get a step up. The EPL was getting to a level where, with the amount of imports, it was tough to get the young players spots. I’m a big believer in developing British talent, and whilst I’ll miss our imports, I think it’s great to give the young talent in Britain the chance to compete. I think it will be a good platform for everyone.
I think it’s going to be interesting to see how the Wildcats adapt. I loved playing in the old ENL when I was younger and had a great time in Nottingham, I’m excited to be playing new teams and visiting new rinks that I’ve not played in before. I just think the team need to take it one game at a time, we’re unsure as to what level it will be. I think the other teams have signed good teams and I think it will be competitive from game one. We’ve just got to go in from the start and take every game as it comes.
We’ve obviously added Renny Marr this year, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Renny. I don’t know him personally that well but I’ve played against his brother for the last couple of seasons and if he’s good as his brother then we’re very lucky. He’s been away training in North America, including being on the ice with some NHL players so he’ll be as ready to go as anyone this season.
We’ve also got Chris Jones coming back from Cardiff. I’ve played with Chris before in Swindon and we got on really well, I’m excited he’s coming back to the Wildcats for next season. He’s been away in the EIHL with Cardiff and it’ll be good to bring him back and see how his game has developed since he was last here.
Sam Zajac is an excellent player, and someone I’ve had a lot of great battles with in the corners over the years. I get on with him well and he’s the kind of guy I hated to play against so I’m thrilled he’s on my team for this season, it’ll be good to not have to worry about him as an opponent this season.
I was happy to see Joseph Hazeldine come down from Nottingham has well this year, coming from Nottingham myself it’s good to see more of us down in Swindon. From the video, I’ve been watching of him he looks to be a very good player. He looks like he can move well and has a great natural talent.
I think this year we have a good mix of young guys with experienced guys. We’ve got Aaron Nell, Neil Liddiard, Phil Hill to name just three will really help bring these guys through. They’ll have so much to learn from especially with Jan Kostal and Max Birbraer around the team too. If I’m still learning after 9 years here, the youngsters on the team will really benefit from their experience.
I think it’s going to be a strange year, I think imports will stand out. I think the British players will be the key, I think we’ve really improved our defence this year so it promises to be a good D core in front of both Renny and Matt Smital next year. I think the young lads will have the good seasons which may go overlooked. People look at achievements through points but it’s performances we worry about not points. The young lads will be able to step up and make a name for themselves and the likes of Ollie Stone and Ben Nethersell will really step up this year.
Two-way deals will help them all too, the experience of training with some of the best players in the country will massively help them. I think they can get some much out of it with training every day and it’s only going to make them better. The more ice time they get, the better they become and that only bodes well for the Wildcats.
I get asked about personal ambitions every year, but honestly, I don’t have any. I just want the team to win something. I think we’ve signed a very good team and my ambitions match those of Aaron. I want to contribute to the team but if I didn’t get a point all season and we lifted a trophy I’d be the happiest man around. Hopefully this will be year we do that.
Swindon Wildcats season started with a double-header challenge series against Bracknell Bees last weekend, which they won 4-2 at home before losing 3-5 away. They will play a second challenge series against Peterborough Phantoms next weekend, home on Saturday 9th and away on Sunday 10th September. Their league season kicks of on Saturday 16th September when they will host MK Thunder.
You’ll be able to find all the remaining articles in our 10by10 season previews (as they are released) together with all the previous seasons’ articles on the following link: http://482days.com/category/10by10/