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SWINDON WILDCATS: New boy Betteridge has point to prove
PREVIOUSLY on the fringes of Nottingham’s EIHL team, Ollie Betteridge is hoping a spell at Swindon can convince the Panthers that he deserves a concerted crack at Britain’s top league.
The 17-year-old made the Wildcats his fourth side of the campaign last Friday following fleeting appearances for the Panthers, the Lions and the Leopards back in Nottingham.
Making his Swindon debut in the thrilling 5-4 win at Milton Keynes on Saturday, the centre took the first step of a spell set to last at least 20 games before the EPL play-offs get underway.
With Ryan Aldridge’s troops depleted in an attacking sense due to injury, Betteridge is optimistic he can make the most of his ice time and impress those back at the National Ice Centre.
The youngster has made just three appearances for the Panthers in the EIHL this season and ultimately wants to feature at that standard on a regular basis.
“In the Elite League I got some ice but not a lot, so I’m hoping that stepping down a league enables me to get a bit more,” he said.
“Hopefully that will help me get back up to the Elite League as I want to play at that level.
“Corey Neilson (Nottingham Panthers head coach) has really helped me out and he was the one that put my name forward. He wants me to prove myself and show what I can do.
“I want to become a better player and to get a bit more experience of a similar level of hockey, and I will try to get some points on the board while I do it.”
The youngster has had limited training and match time with his new teammates so far, but has been impressed by the characters around him.
“As a team Swindon are a good bunch of guys who seem really down to earth,” he said.
“They train hard and want to win and it’s nice to be a part of that.”
Betteridge will train in Nottingham on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays before joining the Wildcats for a session on Thursday. He will be available for both weekend games.
The youngster had prior knowledge of Aldridge before switching to Wiltshire as the Link Centre chief used to coach him in youth hockey camps at Bracknell.
Betteridge’s family own an ice hockey shop next door to the Hive - The Hockey Shack - while they also take care of The Hockey Den in Sheffield.