Fife Flyers defenceman pays tribute to '˜Birzins Loyal' fan club
Ricards Birzins reckons it was fan power that brought him back to Fife Flyers this season.
The Latvian defenceman endured an anxious summer waiting on the call to return to the Kirkcaldy club, which only came on September 1, after Fife had already started their preseason schedule.
The Riga native had scored seven goals and 30 points during the previous season, playing in 56 Elite League games as the club won the Gardiner Conference for the first time.
His performances won the hearts of the Flyers fans, particularly a section of the support known as the Birzins Loyal, who display a Latvian flag at each game.
And the 29-year-old reckons his mini fan club, led by his sponsors, Mark Hadden Decorators, helped earn him the new contract.
“Every game they have the poster for me, and it’s a pretty good feeling,” he said. “They were my sponsors from last year, and I think they are the ones who actually got me back here.
“They were posting a lot of things on Twitter asking where I was, and even had a talk with the coach saying they need to get me back.
“If it wasn’t for them, maybe I wouldn’t be here. I don’t know.
“I just want to say thanks to them for cheering me on and giving me all these kind words.
“I’ll always try my best on the field for you guys.”
Birzins admitted that he was beginning to fear the worst when Fife started their preseason programme without him.
“I enjoyed it here last year very much and I wasn’t expecting to play for any other team,” he said.
“I was worried because I wanted to come back here and it took so long.
“I was waiting on an answer from the coaches, and in the end I got it and I was very happy things got sorted out.
“Now I’m here and things are going in the right direction.”
Birzins is certainly repaying the decision to bring him back, playing his part in Flyers best ever start to an Elite League campaign, which sees them currently riding high in second place.
“The guys are putting in the work for it,” he said.
“As long as we’re doing what the coaches are asking from us, and with our goalie playing really good this year, everything is looking really good at this point in time.
“We just have to keep the train rolling and see how far it can go.”
Birzins has racked up 17 appearances so far this season, scoring two goals and five assists, but he believes there is still room for improvement.
“I still have a lot of things to improve, but I’ll get there,” he said. “I’m feeling confident, and I’m just trying my best.
“You should expect something more from me this year.”