Riley Emmerson must look back on those autumn nights when his Edinburgh Capitals team was chalking up big wins over Cardiff, Nottingham and Sheffield, and wonder if it was all a dream.
It’s been a fantastic season in many respects, but one that is now destined to end on an all too familiar note to fans across the Forth.
Tenth place and out of the play-of race, Caps may be playing for pride, but they still want to sign off on a winning note, and that makes them dangerous opponents to Fife Flyers this Sunday.
Aware of a big travelling support coming his way - one that will heavily outnumber the home support - Emo has issued a rallying call to fans to get behind Caps.
‘’Show ‘em up and show ‘em, how real Scots make noise’’ he tweeted.
He evoked the ‘Crazy Gang’ ethos of Millwall to underline how they were going to approach the closing fixtures. Going gently into the night isn’t part of the script. We could be in for a fun swansong.
Caps, and Emmerson, really deserve better than tenth spot.
The first year coach has done more than most of his predecessors to give the fans something to get excited about again.
He didn’t just talk the team up - he built one that played with spirit and style, and he unearthed a few gems of imports who all caught the eye early on.
Successes included beating Cardiff (6-2), Nottingham (5-3) and then inflicting not one, but three defeats on Sheffield.
Hopes that this could be the breakthrough year saw the team stay high in the standings, competing, challenging and raising the noise levels at the old rink in the shadow of Murrayfield Stadium.
But, it’ll go down as one of the great ‘’what ifs’’ of the season … what if Caps had kept going?
Who’d have been squeezed to the margins of the play-offs - and how would the conference have played out?
And what if the players who left had all stayed, and the team Emo built simply motored on, gaining in confidence and building the momentum that drives all successful clubs forward?
There’s no doubt Caps were stung by the loss of top scoring forward Ryan Hayes who wanted out, went to Sheffield and then discovered the grass wasn’t any greener as he was released after a handful of games.
There’s no doubt they were also badly let down by Kevin Rutherford who decided he too wanted out, and promptly flew to Belfast.
But the departures had already started - Everett Sheen went in October, Nate Fleming headed home for personal reasons, and then Paul Zanetta, another key player, went on loan to Asiago in Italy.
They all sat at the core of Emo’s team - their departures all hurt.
Over half a dozen players have been drafted in at various stages, but the second half of the campaign has been incredibly tough. Caps have won just once in 2016 - the last of their impressive results against Steelers - and only twice since early December.
They’re on a 12-game losing streak, 15 points adrift with just 10 wins from 45 league starts.
When Emo then broke his arm mid-game it probably summed up the misfortune that has beset the club.
That he continued to play on - and joked he still had done ecent arm to use for a poke check here and there - says much for his spirit, humour and, above all, his commitment.
He didn’t deserve to see his rookie coaching season turn to dust, and Caps’ fans can only hope to stays to deliver the vision he has for the club over the coming seasons - there’s no doubt he loves the city and see the potential it offers.
He’s promised to sign off with a flourish - that means a win or two, and if that happens to de-rail someone’s title or play-off ambitions well, that’s their problem. Caps skewered Braehead’s championship hopes last season. Who’s to say they won’t strike once more in the coming weeks?
Fife Flyers head coach, Todd Dutiaume, is all too aware of the danger Caps pose this weekend.
It’s a one-game weekend for a Fife side that has hit a glorious run with perfect timing, but, like all teams hustling for the best play-off spot possible, they are also one game away from having to start a new streak.
Earlier this season Fife threw away a winning game at Murrayfield with a third period collapse that left their fans outraged and the coaching staff frustrated.
Back then Caps were freewheeling to some big wins and were riding above Fife in the standings.
Things may be very. very different this weekend, but this is no ‘gimme’ win.
No match involving these old combatants can ever billed as that ...
>> Edinburgh Capitals v Fife Flyers, Sunday, face-off 5.30 p.m.
>> On Twitter, live updates from @mattelder_ffp and @fifefreepressed