Fife Flyers forward Brendan Brooks is looking forward to the team returning to full strength after enduring one of the most physically demanding weekends of his ice hockey career.
With Ryan Dingle, Matt Sisca and Shayne Stockton all absent, Brooks and the rest of the forward line were required to put in extra shifts against Manchester Storm and Edinburgh Capitals.
Both matches ended in defeat and Brooks, who at 38 is in the twilight of his playing career, admitted that the demands of playing so short-benched took its toll.
“It was tough,” Brooks told the Press. “As a player you always want ice time, but that was a lot of ice we all had to take on, maybe the most I’ve ever had in one weekend in my career.
“I thought we did pretty good for the first part, but you could see in the third we ran out of gas and they were able to take advantage of the tired line up we had. That’s what I felt.
“You miss the work ethic of Dingle and we’ve missed some offence with not having Sisca in the line-up as well.
“Those are two key bodies and centremen that we were missing. We were totally depleted in the middle.
“We had no centreman for both games and guys who normally don’t play centre were filling in.
“We did the best job we could do but those guys are natural centres and that’s where they excel and help our team.”
Brooks, however, refused to use the missing players as an excuse for the back-to-back defeats.
“We were hoping to get some points - and we could have won the Manchester game,” he said. “Their goalie played well - we peppered him with lots of shots.
“We were missing some key guys on the powerplay unit who control the puck and that was the difference in the game. If we could have sneaked one powerplay goal then it’s a completely different game.
“In Edinburgh, when we had that 3-1 lead, we might have been able to change and play a little bit more defensive but they just kept coming at us, and we kept trying to go at them.
“It’s our own fault. We got a little goal hungry. When you get three quick ones like that it’s hard to get that goal hunger out of your mind.
“Once they tied it up we weren’t able to get that energy we had in the first period back. It’s tough - guys were tired from Saturday night, myself included.
“Now this week we’re getting guys back and hopefully we’ll get back to normal.
“We’ve got to move on from it - there’s a new weekend coming up and it’s going to take us all playing together to get back on track.”
Flyers have now lost four consecutive matches in the Gardiner Conference and sit tied at the bottom of the standings on eight points alongside Edinburgh.
“Losing both games hurts us in the conference battle, but it’s a long season and there’s a lot of games left,” Brooks said.
“We’ve just go to take some points that we maybe would’ve been able to give up in future. Ever game is a play-off game now.”
Brooks is keen to see what Flyers can achieve once back to a full strength line-up but he also insists the team must learn to be successful when short-handed.
“We’ve seen it in spurts this year,” he said. “When we’re on and we have a full and healthy line-up, we’re a VERY good team.
“We know that in the room, and when we get away from doing a few things, and lose a few bodies, we have to learn to adapt better than what we are.
“In this sport there’s always lots of injuries so we have to find a way to adapt better when we’re missing guys - no matter who it is.”