HEAD coach Ryan Aldridge is backing summer signing Kenton Smith to add a new dimension to the Swindon Wildcats.
The Canadian D-man agreed to join the Link Centre at the end of July, with Cats the beneficiaries of the 34-year-old’s desire to leave Scottish Elite League side Braehead Clan to spend more time with his Cardiff-based family.
Smith helps make up the trio of new faces in the Wildcats squad, along with fellow newcomers Tomasz Malasinski and Callum Buglass, and chief Aldridge reckons that the former Manchester Pheonix man, who has also featured in the Western Hockey League, American Hockey League and the East Coast Hockey League across the pond, can revolutionise the way his team takes advantage of the power play.
Speaking at Cats’ official season launch yesterday, Alrdridge said: “This week has been hectic and I haven’t really had time to think, getting houses and stuff for the boys, but obviously everyone’s in now so we can relax and get things sorted now.
“It’s nice when you spend all summer recruiting and they all come together in the same place.
“Tomasz was a little bit nervous – he doesn’t speak much English – but he’s fitted in nicely.
“I’m looking forward to it. I think the team we’ve signed is good. We’ve made some improvements and we’ve obviously got the core of our team from last year back. We’re ready to enjoy it now.
“I think our power play will be stronger. I think we’ve got someone who can quarter-back the power play properly now – in Kenton – I don’t think we’ve had that for a few years, so I’m happy about that.
“If you have someone that can run your power play from the back there, it’s a massive help.
“Like I say, that’s the first time we’ve had that in a while and I think it’ll help the younger D as well - we’ve made a couple of key signings this year and I think he was definitely one of them.
“It’s tough because the guys just came in (on Saturday), we had a little skate (on Sunday) and we’ve got a game Wednesday, so it’s not much time to prepare.
“We’ll have to use the warm-up games to prepare and hopefully we’ll start the season fine.”