SWINDON Wildcats have signed defenceman Reece Kelly ahead of the 2023-24 National Ice Hockey League campaign.

Kelly is a former Bristol Pitbulls and Cardiff Devils player who also has experience playing in Canadian, American, Norwegian, and Finnish junior leagues.

The 22-year-old, who follows Glenn Billing into the Wildcats’ new-look squad, managed 30 points in 51 league games last season.

Discussing the new recruit, Wildcats head coach Aaron Nell said: “Bringing Reece to Swindon is another massive signing for us.

“We knew we needed to improve our d-core this year, and bringing Reece in really does that.

“He’s a big strong d-man that has really good offensive instincts, he will help us on our transition and moves the puck really well.

“Reece is still young and has a lot to learn, but if he puts everything together he has potential to be a very good d-man in our league.”

Elsewhere, Swindon confirmed club captain Sam Bullas is returning for a 15th year in 2023-24.

The highest appearance maker in Wildcats history moved from Nottingham in 2009 and will continue to break records next year.

Reflecting on his new deal, Bullas said: “I say this every year, but there is nowhere else I would play other than Swindon. I love the club and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved in the last few years.

“Last year, I think we underperformed at times, and with the look of the roster Aaron is putting together, it’s going to be an exciting season next year.

“The fans are the best in the league and the standard of hockey has got better every year. I’m excited to get back on the ice and playing in front of the Cats fans again!”

Meanwhile, the Wildcats will be joined by Scottish club, Solway Sharks next season as the Dumfries-based outfit becomes the 11th team in the second tier of British ice hockey.

The Sharks won the NIHL Division One play-off title last season and is “expected to bring a new dimension to the competition,” according to a league spokesperson.

In a statement announcing the news, the NIHL clarified that there would not be geographical conferences and each team would remain with 54 fixtures split between their 10 opponents.

Each team will drop three home and away fixtures against different opponents, similar to when the Pitbulls joined at the start of the 22-23 campaign.