More than a few fans had Chris Wands down as a ‘man of the match’ candidate on Saturday night.
As they filed out of the rink after witnessing a peerless 7-0 demolition of Manchester Storm, one was vocal in his support, naming the British defenceman as his only candidate.
Wands one one of just four defencemen who have been rotated constantly by Flyers as they have skated short benched for the past fortnight with Ric Jackman and David Turon sidelined through injury on top of the non-arrival of Kyle Follmer after failing to secure a visa.
With Kyle Haines on his way back to join the team, Turon’s injury assessment bringing him back perhaps quicker than first anticipated and former NHLer Jackman expected to ice at the weekend, the pressure will ease, but Wands has certainly established his credentials for a regular shift.
And, as far as the fans are concerned he has demonstrated beyond doubt he should be on the ice.
By his own admission his philosophy is to keep it simple.
On the ice, Wands doesn’t throw outrageous big checks, or get in the faces of forwards.
What he does is focus on getting the puck out of the zone, clearing up in the corners, and making the very occasional foray up the pad.
His partnership with Phil Paquet has been solid too, and his performances have certainly pleased the coaching staff.
And he has enjoyed being at the heart of the action.
‘’You have to stay as game ready as possible,’’ he said. ‘’That means working hard in training and being ready to jump in.
‘’It can take a few shifts to get into it, but I’ve really enjoyed playing.
‘’I’ve had a lot of ice time in the past few games, but it’s great to be out there playing.
‘With only four defencemen, I just keep things simple. You can’t do too much –the forwards have been great at coming back and giving us support too – while I just try to play to my strengths.Nothing too fancy because that’s when you make mistakes.’’
Both Wands and fellow Fifer, Tommy Muir, have made a big impression as they have stepped up to share huge ice time while Jackman and Turon have been sidelined, with both forming good partnerships with their linemates, Paquet and Russ Moyer respectively.
‘’I iced with Phil last season so that has helped,’’ said Wands. ‘’He’s a great guy to play with.’’
The presence of Jackman, a former NHLer, in the room has also had a benefit for all as this new Fife team has gelled quickly.
‘’Ric is very easy going, and great in the room.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of guys like that this season. No-one is too uptight –it’s a great group.
‘’To be honest it has been really easy going this season. Everyone gelled quickly and got on right from the start.
‘’Some seasons it takes time, maybe even a month or two, or more, but this season it has clicked quickly.’’
‘’And getting Kyle Haines in ,that’s great.
‘‘He’s a really good guy to have in the room. I always got on well with him, so it’ll be good to have him back.’’