SWINDON Wildcats coach Aaron Nell says Tyler VanKleef caught his eye last season after completing a deal to make the Canadian the second import on the club’s roster for the coming campaign.

Forward VanKleef spent the second half of last season at Bracknell Bees and came up against the Cats several times in NIHL South One.

The 27-year-old only arrived in the UK ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and spent a trial period at Elite League side Nottingham Panthers before moving onto Bracknell.

Ontario native VanKleet made an instant impact at the Bees and helped them reach Finals Weekend at Coventry in the race for the NIHL South One play-off title after scoring 30 points in 28 games, including netting 21 goals.

Cats player-coach Nell was quick to swoop for his services and VanKleef joins Polish forward Tomasz Malasinski as one of two overseas players on the Swindon roster ahead of their step up to the newly-formed National League.

“Tyler was very good against us last season. He is big and strong, he is fast and he has got a great shot. I am sure he is going to be a big player for us,” said Nell.

“I spoke to around seven or eight different people about him and they all had good things to say about both his game and his character.

“That’s important. I want someone who is going to come and work hard but also fit right into the group.”

Nell says the fact that VanKleef has already been able to gain experience of British ice hockey helped sway his decision and believes the forward can be a leader on the ice for the Cats next term.

“He is someone that knows the league and all the little rules that are a bit different. That’s important, especially going up to a new level next season,” said Nell.

“I like the way he plays. I was very impressed by him when we played Bracknell last season and he was always a danger.

“He can play in any of the three positions on the forward line, but especially on the right or left wing.

“We are looking forward to getting him in and getting started, and I am sure he is going to be a big player for us next season.”