TYLER VanKleef is simply glad to be back on the ice after finally ending a long wait to make his Swindon Wildcats debut late last month.

VanKleef was announced as a new import signing ahead of the 2019-20 National League season but he was forced to take time off shortly after his arrival at the Link Centre.

A blood clot in the 27-year-old’s leg meant ice hockey took a back seat for a while, but VanKleef has thankfully made a full recovery.

After missing Swindon’s opening 18 fixtures of the season, VanKleef returned for the 7-3 win at home to Sheffield Steeldogs on November 23 – marking his Cats bow with a goal.

The forward has since scored in each of his three appearances for the club – including in Friday’s 4-2 loss at home to Basingstoke Bison – and says being back playing again has come as a big relief.

“I was happy to sign for Swindon over the summer. I was pretty excited to come into join this group of guys,” said VanKleef.

“The off-season was great until around the middle of August when, unfortunately, I had to go home due to a bad circumstance.

“On my way back, something happened in my calf and it ended up being a blood clot.

“It wasn’t the news I wanted to hear but we got it all sorted.

“The timeframe we were trying to go for was three months. Something like this can take up to nine months but I did what I had to do, going to all my appointments and working with a haematologist in London.

“Everything looked good and we got the OK after three months.

“It has been a long road but I am just happy to be back on the ice and fortunate I am healthy.”

The nature of VanKleef’s problem means it is something that needs to be managed carefully.

However, just a handful of weeks since returning to the ice, the Canadian is pleased with the progress he has made.

“I feel good but because it is in my vein, it is hard to say how it actually feels,” said VanKleef.

“It’s the swelling that is the main thing now but we just have to wait it out as that is part of it.

“I feel physically fine and am trying to catch up with the boys conditioning-wise.

“I have just got to work hard in practice and keep my fitness up.”

Swindon had just one fixture over the weekend, with no game on either Saturday or Sunday.