Chase Schaber cannot wait for his first taste of Elite League play-offs after admitting that he is playing his best hockey of the season.
The 26-year-old Canadian has been Fife’s stand-out performer during the last few weeks of the regulation season, and he hopes to carry his form into this weekend’s play-off quarter-final against Belfast Giants.
It will be the first time Schaber has experienced a two-leg, aggregate score scenario, but it is one he is looking forward to being involved in.
“Now the real season starts,” Schaber told the Press. “This is the first time I’ve played an aggregate.
“Playing in North America my whole hockey career so far has been best of seven, best of five, best of three.
“It’s a totally different mindset – you’ve got to manage the game, buckle down defensively, and be really responsible.
“It doesn’t matter what the format is, it’s still play-offs, and it’s still an exciting time of year.
“There’s another energy to it, it’s literally like a new season. You get excited for it again, there’s something to play for, and anything can happen.”
Schaber is arguably Fife’s most improved player over the course of the season having recovered from a relatively slow start to become one of the team’s most consistent players.
“I don’t like to make excuses, but I didn’t play last year at all,” he said.
“I was out with a bad injury, I had rehab all summer, and it took me a while to find my game again.
“My confidence was low, but I just got back to basics and slowly I progressed a little better each week, and game-by-game I was starting to see a difference.
“Just lately I’ve really got my feet underneath me and now I’m back to playing my best hockey.
“The last couple of months is what I’m about and how I like to play every single night. At the start of the year, that wasn’t me.
“I know I had flashes of what I’m doing right now, but not consistently, which I really wanted to do for our team, and fans. I feel now I’m playing more consistently game-in game-out.”
Schaber has also emerged as a key scorer, with a late flurry ensuring he finished the regular season with 21 goals, making him the club’s second top finisher behind Ryan Dingle, who has 31.
“At the start of season I was just worried about playing,” he said.
“I progressed, got better, and now every time I get out there I’m hungry.
“I’m fired up and I want it. Whoever I’m against, I want it more than that guy.
“I’ve come a long way from the start and it’s thanks to my team mates and the coaching staff for pushing me and giving me the confidence to do that.”
Schaber is fired up to reach the Nottingham finals weekend after hearing all about it from his team mates who have experienced it in the past.
“It’s do-or-die for us this weekend,” he said.
“You’re either going into the final four in Nottingham or your season is over.
“We’ve played Belfast six times and we’ve split – lost three times in their barn, and beat them three times here.
“The difference maker is going to be who plays better on the road.
“Talking to the guys who have done the final four – it’s sounds really exciting.
“The atmosphere around Nottingham is supposedly just ecstatic with fans all over the place.
“The barn just gets packed – it doesn’t matter who’s playing. I’ve heard that other teams fans will be cheering for another team because they want them to do well.
“I would love to be a part of that and we’re going to do whatever we can to get there.”