Club captain Kyle Haines admitted that Fife Flyers are now in a do-or-die situation after Saturday’s sobering 3-1 home defeat to Hull Stingrays.
Flyers produced one of their poorest displays of the season in what was a must-win match against a fellow play-off rival, and Haines gave a frank assessment after the match.
“You never plan to play that poorly, and we’re not happy about it,” he said.
“A lack of effort, and a lack of compete, was what it came down to, which you don’t expect to happen this late in the season when every game is a play-off game, and we know how much it means.
“But it’s been happening all year so I guess I’m not that surprised.
“We’re either really good or really poor, and it’s been a frustrating season because of that.
“Of course we can still bounce back, although we probably had this conversation three months ago and nothing much has changed since.
“We are in a do-or-die situation right now. Guys have got to buck up. We’re fighting for jobs next year.
“We also want to win and we’ve got to find a way as men, professional hockey players and team mates to get the job done.”
Haines also stressed that the team needs to refocus for the remaining four games after becoming too fixated on emulating last season’s run to the play-off finals weekend.
“Since Christmas it’s been all about play-offs - from everyone,” he said. “But that’s a terrible way to look at it.
“We can’t look that far ahead right now. The only thing that matters is the next 20 minutes against Dundee.
“That’s when we’ve got to get back on track. We just have to break it down to a shift at a time and chip away.
“We’ve been looking at the big picture for far too long.
“I think we’ve got a little ahead of ourselves from top to bottom.”
Haines even went as far as to suggest that Flyers pre-season ambitions of competing for the Elite League title were unrealistic.
“This league is actually very, very good,” he said.
“I don’t think people realise how good the teams are and how strong the imports are.
“Most of the teams are running at full import level, and their British guys are full-time.
“I’m not making up any excuses but we’re not going to finish in the top two in the table and just march into the play-offs.
“We’ve got to chip away and find a way to win each night and be hard working.
“If people expected us to win the league, and I might catch fire for this, that’s just not going to happen here right now.
“We have a lot to take care of in this next three weeks.”