SWINDON Wildcats are NIHL South One champions after a 4-2 victory over Bracknell Bees at the Link Centre on Saturday night.

Exactly a year to the day since their Autumn Trophy success, Aaron Nell’s Wildcats blew the bees away with their superior all-around quality to finally lay claim to a title that looked far from likely before Christmas.

One 15-game winning run later, and the chance was presented to wrap up the league last week, however an unlikely lost to Streatham saw celebrations postponed until this.

In front of an expectant crowd, Nell opened the scoring in the first period, however the Bees hit back to set nerves jangling.

A second-period flood of goals saw Nell’s men race into a 4-1 lead and calm any worries – Nell, Toms Rutkis and Sam Jones all contributed to the Cats’ tally, only for Tyler VanKleef to score his second late on.

But with Peterborough Phantoms losing 7-6 away to London Raiders, the Wildcats were confirmed as champions in the second interval. The Cats’ fans began cheering and celebrating as the players came out onto the ice for the final period.

An emotional Nell said afterwards: “I’m very happy with all the boys – I’m very proud of them.

“It’s been a great couple of months for us, especially when you consider the position we were in, to be where we are now is just credit to the players because of how hard they’ve worked and how good they’ve been.

“It’s massive, it’s great for the club – our goal this year was to win the league and winning the league is the one that everyone wants to do.

“From where we’ve come from in December, a lot of people were doubting us, a lot of people were wondering ‘what’s going on in Swindon?’

“But we had a plan and we’re very fortunate that the players bought into it and it came off – I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

With 65 points from 41 games, the Cats became league champions for the first time in their named history on Saturday night.

Their title now means that Swindon Town, Swindon Robins and Swindon Wildcats have all won a league title within the last seven years and Nell paid tribute to the sporting fans that have turned out to cheer on his team over the past few months.

He said: “The crowds we’ve been getting over the last couple of weeks – all season really – but especially over the last month or so, have been amazing.

“The atmosphere, especially at the start of the third period when we had been confirmed as champions, was amazing and I can’t thank the fans enough for all the support they’ve given us.

“I’m just very proud of the players and the whole club.

“The players have been great over the past few months and I didn’t care how we won it tonight, we’re just delighted it’s happened.”