Latest Swindon Wildcats signing Josh Batch said the move to the NIHL side was the right opportunity for him to progress his off-ice career after he joined the club.
And he admits he’s already impressed by what he’s seen and heard by the club as he looks ahead to the Streaming Series, involving Wildcats, Milton Keynes Lightning and Sheffield Steeldogs later this month.
“When the Elite League announced they were postponing the season I had a decision to make,” he told Swindon’s website. “I looked to Europe as a few other players had done, or take my chances and hope the NIHL went ahead.
“I live in Cardiff and have a job outside of hockey in Newport. I took the decision to stay in the UK in order to try and progress my off-ice career while hopefully still playing some hockey.
— 𝐉𝐨𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐚 𝐁𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡 (@JoshBatch41) November 3, 2020
“Swindon was the obvious choice due to how successful they have been and the proximity to Cardiff, so I got in touch with Aaron and luckily he still had room on the roster for me and we were able to come to an agreement very easily.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about the club from Toms Rutkis and Chris Jones, who I played with in Cardiff.
“They have both told me that they look after their players and run things the right way. From my conversations with Aaron (Nell, Swindon’s coach) so far I can see they are both absolutely right.”
Batch arrives in Swindon having played the last nine seasons at the Devils, where he played a part in their trophy-laden success under Andrew Lord.
He’s excited for the Streaming Series, where he’ll be up against GB team-mate Ben O’Connor, a regular nemesis from Sheffield Steelers who joined the Steeldogs.
And despite the notion of playing in empty rinks, Batch is excited at the thought of getting to play again.
He added: “It’s strange to think that we will actually be playing hockey games again. With the games being behind closed doors I’m sure it will be a bit bizarre playing in in an empty rink, but I’m looking forward to the games.
“I suspect there will be a few cobwebs to get rid of for everyone involved, this will be the longest layoff we have all had from hockey since we started playing, but I can’t wait.”
Wildcats coach Aaron Nell was pleased to add a player like Batch to his line-up and revealed after the suspension of the EIHL, they moved quickly to get him on board.
He said: “We’re delighted to have Josh signed up for the new season. As soon as the EIHL was cancelled we got in contact and the deal was struck quite quickly. He’ll start as a defenceman for us but can play as a forward if needed too.
“I think he’ll complement the other D men really well and he’s coming from the best hockey team in the UK. He’s played at a very high level including for Team GB and in the Champions Hockey League and we’re thrilled to have a player of his calibre in Swindon.”