ICE HOCKEY: Keeping Lyle and Symonds on board was key

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Alex Symonds Swindon Wildcats (2332512) Alex Symonds Swindon Wildcats (2332512)

SWINDON WILDCATS' head coach Ryan Aldridge has started his team building for the 2014-15 campaign by retaining the services of Welsh duo Stevie Lyle and Alex Symonds, writes George Royle.

Former Great Britain goalie Stevie Lyle signed from Basingstoke last year and had a fantastic first season at the Link Centre. Despite putting pen to paper on a two-year deal, Aldridge had a small amount of negotiating to do with Lyle to secure his services again.

The 34-year-old made 53 appearances last season, recording a goals against average of just over three and a save percentage of 0.914%. He played a massive part in getting the Cats to Coventry in April but is adamant that the upcoming season will be his last before retirement.

Having a goalie of Stevie's calibre gives a boost to the whole team as he has enough ability to give his side the chance to win every single game.

Re-signing Symonds was probably high up on Aldridge's list of priorities for the off-season. The former Cardiff Devil was arguably Swindon's best defence man last year, putting in consistently good performances throughout the campaign.

Alex showed great versatility on the ice – he's the complete player. He offered a lot of physicality, skated well and played a massive part on both the powerplay and penalty kill on his way to scoring four goals and bagging 19 assists.

The defensive side of the Wildcats' game was perhaps their weakest last season, so signings in that area should be Aldridge's focus in the upcoming weeks.

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