WILDCATS forward Sam Bullas admits returning silverware to the Link Centre is ‘long overdue’ ahead of the club’s Autumn Cup final against Basingstoke.

Bullas, who joined Cats in 2009 from Nottingham Panthers, is yet to win a trophy in a Swindon jersey.

However, he now has two chances to put that right, starting tonight as Cats travel to Basingstoke (7.45pm) for the first leg of the Final before Aaron Nell’s men welcome the Bison to Swindon next Friday, March 9.

Cats also have another two-legged showpiece to look forward to when they face Sheffield Steeldogs in the NIHL Cup final.

Bullas said: “I say this every year but I’m here to win trophies. We’ve got two great chances to do this now, but that’s still four tough games.

“We’ve put the hard work in. A trophy is long overdue and we’re in a good spot.”

The 27-year-old, whose national honours include icing for Great Britain’s U20s team, believes Cats’ consistency has guided them to success this season thus far.

Bullas didn’t forget to mention to the noise made by fans around the rink, describing the support as ‘like having a sixth man’.

“We’ve received such great support this year and it’s been great to see so many fans turn up,” said Bullas. It’s like having a sixth player on the ice. I try and block out everything apart from what’s happening on the ice.

“But you do notice the fans getting behind the team. They’re so loud and dedicated.

“Our form has dipped in the past month, but I think that’s down to a busy schedule.

“The schedule has been tough, but it’s our job. All we can do is take each game as it comes.

“Friday is a big game, but it’s important for us not to worry about what’s ahead until that game ends.”

Despite earning a comfortable 8-4 aggregate win other Telford Tigers in the semi-final, Bullas is taking nothing for granted and expects to meet a hard-working Basingstoke team.

He said: “Basingstoke are a great team. They work hard and are well drilled by their coach.

“We know what they’re about and we know if we play well we can win. It would be massive if we could win a final.

“We’re dying for silverware. The players want it more than anything. We’d love to bring something back for our fans.”

Success at the Link Centre appears to be having a positive knock-on effect regarding the next generation of Swindon hockey stars.

Bullas explained: “Part of my role at the Wildcats is to go to schools and promote hockey.

“Numbers at this season’s ‘Learn and Play’ sessions are the biggest ever. We have around 80 to 100 kids playing every Friday night.

“I think the team this year has had an impact on that. Schools are coming to games and watching for discounted prices. That’s the reason why we started doing what we do.

“It gets kids off the street and into a positive pathway.”