THE BESPOKE Guardians Swindon Wildcats head coach Aaron Nell believes his team has found an identity that they can use to win ahead of the National Ice Hockey League starting this weekend.

Hot off the back of an Autumn Cup group-stage success that saw the Cats narrowly squeeze through to the semi-finals, Nell’s team is set to turn their focus on the league season for the time being.

The player-coach said the scare his team received midway through the cup campaign has stood them in good stead for a crack at lifting the league title once again.

Nell said: “We can’t wait – the league is always the big one for any team in this country.

“It’s been an up-and-down Autumn Cup campaign so far, but I actually think that adversity has been really good for us.

“We’re looking forward to starting now, and we’re keen to get going. We have turned a corner now, and I feel like we’re going in the right direction, but it’s about continuing that.

“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve found some sort of identity, and we need to stick to that. If we can, we’ve always got a chance to win games.”

The Wildcats’ first two games this weekend could hardly be any more challenging, with Swindon hosting one of the title favourites – Sheffield Steeldogs – at home on Saturday before travelling to Shropshire on Sunday to face Telford Tigers.

Nell admitted his side will probably have to play the best they have all year to get a result from Sheffield, but is backing his boys to do exactly that at the Link Centre on Saturday night.

He said: “In our situation of not playing properly last year, the Autumn Cup has been very important to make sure it gives us an extra chance of getting back into the swing of things.

“The standard will go up a level now we’re into league action – I’m very grateful we got through in the Autumn Cup – but now that’s sorted we can focus on the league, and we want to get a good start.

“It’s not an easy start, it probably couldn’t be tougher. Sheffield are a very good team with probably the best player in the league.

“They beat us 7-2 away from – we need to make sure we’re a lot better than that night.

"We’ll probably need to put our best performance of the season in to get a win.”