SWINDON Wildcats D-man Stevie Whitfield reckons last weekend’s opening pair of fixtures has already shown just how tough the competition will be in the National League this season.

Aaron Nell’s side flew out of the traps in their season opener last Saturday, storming into a 7-0 lead at home to Raiders.

However, the Londoners battled back and cut the gap to 7-6 to give the Cats a huge scare before the hosts finally finished the job 9-6.

Swindon were also hit by a comeback the following day as Hull Pirates scored twice in the final five minutes before netting again in overtime to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 win.

The Cats entertain Peterborough Phantoms at the Link Centre tonight before travelling to Telford Tigers tomorrow, and Whitfield says Swindon have already been warned they must be ready for battle.

“Getting a win at home last Saturday was a good way to start the season,” said Whitfield.

“It was a weird game as we came out flying but then let Raiders back into it. In the first game, the main thing was getting the result.

“It is a bit of a learning curve and it just shows this league is going to be a lot tighter. If you take any time off, teams are going to punish you.

“There are positives as we are scoring goals but there are also a few things to work on at the back.

“It is about trying to keep pushing forward as a team.”

Player-coach Nell opted to keep the majority of last season’s NIHL South One title-winning squad together for the new campaign, with import Tomasz Malasinski the only fresh addition.

Whitfield believes that familiarity in the locker room can pay dividends on the ice.

“There weren’t many changes over the summer and it definitely helps to have continuity in the squad,” said 28-year-old Whitfield.

“We have just got to make sure we are getting up for every game and are ready to try to achieve what we did last season and the season before that.”