GLOVEMAN Dean Skinns reckons Wildcats fans will see the best of him in the English Premier League soon, once he shakes off the cobwebs of summer.
The 27-year-old former Basingstoke man started both games of the opening weekend and looks set to be involved against Slough tonight and Peterborough on Sunday, given the continued absence of the injured Tom Murdy.
And with ice time on his side, Skinns believes his skills can only sharpen and Wildcats will reap the benefits.
“I’ve never really started the season very well, it usually takes me a few weeks for me to really start feeling good,” he said.
“It’s always tough when you come back in at the start of the season. When you play the exhibition games the intensity isn’t always there, whereas in league games everyone is working hard as it’s all about getting the points.
“Sometimes people say, ‘maybe you should have stopped that’, but it’s a very long summer.
“I’m my own worst critic, I never really think I’ve played that well and there’s always room for improvement.
“Right now I have the chance to get a few games under my belt, and it’s always nice to start a lot of games instead of switching.”
With Slough the visitors to the Link Centre this evening (7.45pm), Skinns is hoping his team can build on the results they had against the Jets in pre-season, in which they drew 5-5 at home before shocking the reigning play-off champions 7-5 at the Hangar.
“I don’t think you can ever take a team like Slough lightly, but the win against them gave everyone a massive boost of confidence,” said Skinns.
“That was helped by taking Manchester to a shootout and Sheffield to overtime.
“We haven’t lost against Slough and we beat them in the second challenge game we played against them, so we’ve proved we can beat a top-four team.
“Realistically we are a top-four team ourselves and I think we’ll surprise a lot of people.
“I think we’ve done well so far and we’ve got two new imports in and a couple of British players, which is going to be a big help for us.”
Swindon round off their weekend at Peterborough and Basingstoke-based Skinns has warned the Phantoms will present a sterner test than many expect.
“A lot of people are writing them off, but they are going to be another tough team,” he said.
“People are saying they won’t be better than last year but Peterborough is always a tough place to go.
“Even Guildford go there and struggle sometimes and they are a good team in this league.
“Peterborough can turn anyone over, especially in their own rink.”