DEFENCEMAN Sam Godfrey insists loyal Swindon Wildcats fans play a huge part in the club’s success both on and off the ice.

Wildcats enjoyed their most successful season since the turn of the millennium last year when landing both the Autumn Cup and National Trophy under the leadership of player-coach Aaron Nell.

Now, fresh from a summer of rest, the 24-year-old right-shooter – who featured in both of Wildcats’ opening pre-season wins at home and on the road to Bracknell Bees – enters the upcoming season quietly optimistic about further success this term.

He said: “It’s been nice to have some time off, time to ourselves. We got back on the ice seven weeks ago and things are now falling into place for the competitive season.

“There have been a few changes, and I think we’ve improved on last season.

“We’ve got a good group of guys. The club is very professional, trophies were won last season – hopefully we can build on that this year.”

Wildcats boast a strong full-time off-ice operations team helping with the general day-to-day running of the club.

Commercial manager, digital marketing and community operations are three of the many roles Wildcats have filled in recent years.

And the professional off-ice approach is something that Godfrey believes helps attract a strong calibre of players to the UK’s second ice hockey tier.

“That professional approach off the ice certainly helps us on it,” said Godfrey.

“The team has improved leaps and bounds. The levels of professionalism at this level is great, it gives the boys a chance to focus on their game.

“It’s good for the club too as players will want to come here. At this level, Swindon is the best team to play for.

“It’s a great attraction – players want to play here and be part of the club.

“We’ve got the best fans in the league, which makes for a great atmosphere on game night.

“We lost only a couple of games at home last year in the regular season. That’s massive, and a lot of that comes down to the fans.”

Wildcats return to the Link Centre on Saturday night when facing Streatham IHC in their third pre-season fixture of the season.

The return leg takes place the following night at Streatham Ice Rink.

Face-off at the Link Centre on Saturday is at 6.15pm.