SWINDON WILDCATS: Sandvik returns to Wildcats
5:30am Saturday 24th May 2014 in By Michael Reeves, Deputy sports editor
SWINDON Wildcats have signalled their intentions for next season by retaining star forward Henri Sandvik.
The flying Finn is the sixth player to commit his immediate future to the Link Centre side as they look to take the EPL by storm.
The 27-year-old, who the Advertiser reported earlier in the week was closing in on a new deal, was key to Cats’ success last term, as he helped fire them into the play-off finals weekend, and head coach Ryan Aldridge is delighted that his star forward is returning.
“It’s huge,” Aldridge told the Advertiser. “He was a fans’ favourite last year and he is such a big asset to the club - it is great to have him back.”
Aldridge said that negotiations with the player, who claimed Supporters’ Player of the Year, the Coaches’ Player of the Year and the Best Forward gongs at the club’s end of season awards, went smoothly.
“It wasn’t tough at all,” Aldridge revealed. “He wanted to come back and we wanted him back.Henri took on more responsibility last year and was a more productive player.
“He is very keen to return and improve even more.”
For large chunks of last season Cats relied heavily on Sandvik to lead their charge and the Finn bagged 29 goals and 37 assists in 50 outings.
And with Jan Kostal and Ollie Betteridge also returning to the Link Centre next term, Aldridge is looking for big things from his attacking trio.
“Last season when the line of Jan, Ollie and Henri came out flying it brought the best out of the team - it helped us massively,” Aldridge said.
“At times we relied on Henri to get us the goals, hopefully now we can continue from where we left off last season where we had goals from all over the rink.”
With Sandvik joining Kostal, Betteridge, Aaron Nell, Stevie Lyle and Alex Symonds in returning next term, Aldridge is pleased with how his squad is shaping up.
“There were a lot of guys I was desperate to bring back next season and these are six of them,” he said.
“Talks are going well with the others and we are getting close.”
With the EPL campaign likely to get underway in mid-September, Aldridge says that attentions will soon turn to arranging his pre-season programme.
“At the moment I’m not sure when the fixtures will come out,” he said. “But I would like to have the players back in for training two weeks before we start.
“The aim is to have four games and then hopefully we can start the season how we finished the last one.”