Kyle Haines admits he would love to face Braehead Clan in the play-offs despite Fife Flyers’ record in the head-to-head meetings this season.
Flyers only avoided a league season whitewash and snapped an eight-game losing streak against Clan with a 3-1 victory in Kirkcaldy on Saturday.
However, despite Clan’s superior record over the campaign, Haines would fancy his team’s chances should the big rivals come face-to-face in the play-offs.
There is still an outside chance that the side’s could meet in the quarter-finals if Belfast Giants win the Erhardt Conference, however, with Cardiff Devils in the driving seat, any meeting would likely take place in Nottingham, if both sides reached the finals.
“If we meet them somewhere down the road in play-offs, just to know, mentally, that we got the last win on them, is huge,” said the long-serving defenceman.
“I would love to face them in the play-offs again - that would be a lot of fun for everyone.
“Travel-wise it’s nice too, your legs are fresher. And just the atmosphere in the building between the fans - it’s electric.
“That would be a lot of fun, but whoever we get we’ll be prepared and give them our best shot. We’re looking to get down to Nottingham again.”
Haines certainly has good memories of last year’s play-off quarter-final meeting with Clan.
It was his dramatic goal 14 seconds from the end of the first leg that ensured a one-goal advantage, which proved crucial in the second leg as Flyers made it to Nottingham.
“Those games were definitely a lot of fun last year and I have great memories,” he recalled.
“I had a similar chance against Braehead on Saturday. It was the same play coming down the same angle, the net was wide open, but I missed it.
“They’ve out-matched us this year but we’ve always played them when we’ve been a man or two short, which is a big deal at this level.
“I’m glad we finally got them. It’s been a while since we’ve had a sold out crowd like that, and the buzz in the building helped us a lot.
“It was a gritty game with lots of scrums - it was probably one of the most fun games all year.”
Haines believes that the performance against Clan on Saturday proves Flyers are starting to peak in time for play-offs.
“There probably hasn’t been many more games this season where we’ve played better,” he said. “Everyone contributed, played simple, and just did the little things all night. Everyone was engaged in the game, and those are fun hockey games to be a part of.
“It gives us a spark going into play-offs, and we can look back on that game and realise the potential we have.
“We ‘ve had flashes of brilliance all season then we lose it for a weekend or two, so we know we have it in us. “It’s just a matter of us executing the game plan and being engaged in the game.”
Haines has been to the Nottingham finals weekend twice with Flyers, losing in the semi-finals on both occasions, but this year he is hoping to go the full distance.
“We’ve been close and it stings,” he said.
“That’s two years in a row now we’ve had the league title being celebrated against us so I think it’s our turn to celebrate something.
“We have the potential in the room, and we’ve beaten every team in the league so that’s encouraging.
“We match up well against those big teams, it seems.
“I wouldn’t count us out, that’s for sure. There’s so many good teams from top to bottom that any road is going to be tough, but I believe we have the potential in there to do it.
“It’s just a matter of executing.”