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SWINDON WILDCATS: Whitfield up for the challenge in opener
TRY telling Wildcats defenceman Stevie Whitfield that challenge match results don't matter.
The Link Centre side open up their pre-season schedule tonight when Slough travel to Wiltshire and Whitfield is as concerned with gaining victory and an early psychological edge as he is on working on match sharpness.
And the 22-year-old insists that will be the case in next week's exhibition clash with the Jets as well as this weekend's double-header with Telford.
“I'm too competitive to not worry about results,” said Whitfield.
“I don't really switch off. If we do a battling practice drill in the corner, I don't like losing.
“People say it doesn't matter, but we're going to play those teams twice away and twice at home and if we can bury them now, I'd love to.
“It will help us to go into a league game knowing we can beat them while they are thinking, here we go again.
“If we lose by one or two I guess we're just getting used to each other, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to win.”
Whitfield will line up against former teammates Tomas Fojtik and Lee Richardson tonight, the latter of which switched to the Hangar this summer following a six-year spell at Swindon.
While Whitfield admits Richardson's influence will be missed, he feels that Swindon have a natural successor to that role in the experienced Shane Moore.
“It was a strange one when I heard Lee had gone because he was a big part of the changing room,” said Whitfield.
“You can replace them talent-wise although he is a very talented hockey player, but what's tough to replace is what they are like in the room and how they bring on the younger players.
“At times like these, you find out whether other guys are ready to take on that role or not.
“Moorsy is captain now and he's the sort of player who's going to say to the younger guys how we do things.
“I really feel he has earned it. Even when he wasn't captain he was always a leader and he's a big part of the locker room.
“If we need telling that we're doing something wrong, Moorsy is there. I feel it's the right pick and he's certainly a good leader for a group of young players.”
Wildcats have seven new players on board for the 2013/14 season so far and Whitfield, a former Great Britain Under-18 international, feels the time was right to bring in new blood.
“I'm more excited than usual, because sometimes you come together and it feels like a reunion - you see all the same faces,” he said.
“There's something a bit fresh in the room now. I enjoy it when you're meeting all the new people and it's a different feel to any other year that I've been here.
“You bring in so many new faces and it feels like a fresh start. I'm not saying it had gone stale last year, but the summer certainly felt like it was the time to revamp the team and I think it looks bright for this year.
“The loss of (Matt) Towe is quite big but I really like all the players that have come in. Even when we were out there playing four-on-four (in practice) everyone was at 100 per cent and I think that's really going to suit us in games.
“One thing teams don't want to play against is hard workers and quick players.”
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