NATIONAL League Ice hockey does not get much better than this says player-coach Aaron Nell ahead of Swindon Wildcats against Telford Tigers on Saturday.

The two title challengers are just a pair of points apart ahead of one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the year at the Link Centre.

If Swindon can inflict defeat on the table toppers, it would spell an unprecedented run of losses for Telford and see their winless run stretch into a sixth game.

And the Cats’ player-coach has no intentions of telling his players to treat it like any other league fixture – Nell says his squad will be as pumped as they can be on Saturday night.

“We knew a month ago that Saturday’s game was going to be our biggest one of the year,” said Nell.

“We’ve got nine games left, and each one of those will be our biggest game of the season until the championship is decided.

“Hockey in this league doesn’t get much better than what will happen on Saturday night.

“Both teams are two points apart, so it’s a huge game.

“We did well to make up some points last week, but we know Telford are one of the best teams in the division and I expect that to be no different.

“A lot of it is about showing up on the night. Teams’ systems don’t really change, only little things are tweaked.

“In the cup semi-final, we showed up for the first leg and it was role reversal for the second leg.

“Netminding is key, and so is the battle between imports.”

Though it appeared Telford would stride away with the league no more than a month ago, Tigers have been sucked back into the pack after shock defeats to struggling Bracknell Bees and London Raiders in recent weeks.

Nell has been stating the league is more competitive than its predecessors all year, and the 30-year-old is pleased the proof has finally started to emerge as the season reaches its climax.

He said: “Creating the National League is the best thing that could’ve happened.

“I don’t think the league structure from last season would’ve lasted another season, if I’m com-pletely honest.

“It’s been a fantastic league, though us and Telford really ran away with it at the start. But we’ve both taken a backward step in the last few weeks.

“We’ve lost plenty of games, and so have they.

“It’s a great league – Bracknell in eighth have beat-en us and Telford twice recently which highlights the depth.

“I can’t ask for anymore. It’s great for players’ development and for the coaches too.

“For the fans, it has been such a great season, and long may it continue.”