Carlo Finucci is simply enjoying his hockey at Fife Flyers now that the burden of proving himself in the Elite League is off his shoulders.
Finucci showed last season he belongs on the EIHL stage, scoring 37 points in 52 appearances in an injury-hit side after making the step up from the now-defunct EPL.
He did enough to earn a second year contract from Fife, and the Canadian-Italian has rewarded the club with some sparkling displays in recent weeks, particularly in Sunday’s defeat to Cardiff Devils, where he earned a deserved man of the match award as well as grabbing his third goal of the campaign.
“It’s been a good start for us,” he told the Press.
“On any given night someone is chipping in, doing their job and producing.
“It’s been a good start, I’m happy with it, and we’ve just got to carry it on.”
The positive start to this season, both individually and collectively, is in contrast to the early stages of last season for Finucci and Fife.
“Personally, I started last year off pretty well in the Challenge Cup, then I went about 16 games without scoring a goal,” he recalled. “It was a learning curve for me, but I feel a lot more comfortable this year.
“Our team has a lot of new faces so guys don’t really know about last year. They’ve heard about it, and we’ve talked to them and tried to teach them about how to be ready for every game in this league and how every night is important.”
Finucci often found himself with different line mates from night to night last year as Flyers battled through injury troubles, and inconsistent form.
This season, however, the 30-year-old left winger is enjoying being part of a healthy squad, and a steady line-up week-to-week.
“Looking back, if we were healthy for a good chunk of it we could’ve been talking differently about last season,” he said. “It’s always great when we get a good run of everyone being fit and healthy and hopefully that carries on for us.
“With hockey being a physical sport it’s tough to go a full season with a healthy line-up but guys will step up if needed and we’ll be ready for that if the time comes, but for now we’ll keep enjoying the full roster and keep running the way we are.”
Finucci is particularly enjoying the chemistry on the third line with Shayne Stockton and James Isaacs.
“Getting Shayne back was crucial, I think we link up well together, while Isaacs has been doing a good job as a defenceman turned forward,” he said. “He’s always asking questions and we’re trying to guide him along.
“Shayne is a good two-way centreman so defensively, with a D-man on the line too, we’re pretty sound in that sense. You don’t have all three of us taking chances.
“Shayne and I started last season together and we link up well. We have a good sense of where we’re going to be and how to find each other.”
After missing out on the Challenge Cup knock-out stages last season, and playing catch-up in league and conference, Finucci is now looking to build on the impressive start to the current season.
“It’s a lot easier to build on a season from a start like this than it is to dig your way out of a hole,” he said.
“A good start like this is crucial for us if we want to do any damage in the league.”