Kyle Haines will spend the summer honing his shooting skills in a mate’s back garden in the hope of bringing even more firepower to Fife Flyers next season.
The Canadian defenceman scored an impressive 34 points, including 11 goals and 26 assists, in his 45 Elite League appearances last season to help Flyers reach the play-off finals weekend.
And after signing on for a second season in Fife last week, the 26-year-old told the Press he has set his sights on contributing even more offence next term.
“As a player at this level I am always looking to continually improve both on and off the ice,” he said. “I work hard in the off-season to improve my strength and agility, puck skills and shot.
“My friend and I built a shooting gallery in his backyard so we can shoot pucks and continue to improve that part of our game.
“On a personal level, I would like to be one of the top D-men in the league, both defensively and offensively, while on a team level I want to be drinking champagne out of the trophy with all my team mates come April.
“These will both come with many challenges but I look forward to trying to achieve them.”
Haines, a former AHL player with Lake Erie Monsters, took some time to weigh up his options before deciding on a return to Fife.
“I just wanted to take some time, evaluate the situation and decide what I wanted personally,” he said.
“I finally came to the conclusion that Fife is where I want to be this season.
“Scotland is an amazing country and I am really excited to be moving back and helping the Flyers win hockey games and having the opportunity to explore new places.
“My comfort level in Fife was really high and that’s important to me. I was surrounded by a great group of guys and I was given the opportunity to play a lot of minutes which I enjoy.
“Todd and Danny gave me the grace to play a more offensive game and I had a lot of fun playing hockey again.
“Obviously there were some rough stretches but overall it was very positive experience for myself.
“It was my first time overseas and the fans and team could have not been more welcoming.
“That final stretch we had was amazing and I still get chills thinking about some of the experiences I had while I was in Fife.
“The rink was a fun place to be, the crowds were incredible, the intensity of the games were awesome.
“My parents were over when we came back to beat Braehead 6-4 in a real thriller and I had four points that night. It was a thrill to do that in front of them.”
There were also low points for Haines to endure as the team struggled to find form until the second half of the season.
“The lowest point for me was when I got that puck in the mouth in Edinburgh and had to leave the game to get stitches,” he said.
“I feel really bad that I had to leave the game and leave the boys hanging.
“In retrospect, I wish I got stitched up at the rink and got back into the game at the start of the second period to help the boys win that game.”
Haines has been humbled by the reaction of supporters to the news of his re-signing.
“It’s a great feeling to know the fans are very excited to have me back,” he said.
“They believe in me and my skill-set and are happy to have me back in a Flyers top - I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was great to read all the nice responses on social media.”