His lip bleeding, and his eyes wild with excitement, Kyle Haines emerged from the away dressing room at Braehead Arena on Sunday night like a warrior who had triumphed on the battlefield.
“Wow! I’m extremely proud of the guys,” he said, as he reflected on two incredible nights of hockey that saw Fife Flyers overcome Braehead Clan in a pulsating play-off quarter-final.
“Everyone battled their butts off all weekend, it was great hockey from start to finish,” the defenceman added.
“That is definitely the most intense hockey I’ve been a part of while I’ve been here.
“It was a tonne of fun - two sold out barns and the fans were loud.
“I’m just glad we came out of it ahead.”
Haines was still on a high from his goal the previous night, which came 13 seconds from the end of the first leg, and gave Flyers a crucial 2-1 advantage going to Braehead.
The goal is sure to be talked about for years to come as the levels of noise and excitement shook a near sold-out Fife Ice Arena to its foundations.
“I’ve maybe scored some nicer goals, but I’ve never scored such a crucial one situation-wise,” Haines said.
“The crowd, the time of the game, who we were playing - all the ingredients were there.
“I could barely sleep after it - I don’t think I’ve heard that old barn that loud.
“It was just a great weekend.”
Haines played like a man possessed over both legs, and he admitted he always seems to save his best for Clan.
“I seem to play well against them, I don’t know why,” he said.
“We are bitter rivals so I get up for these games, and I love scoring against them. “In my first game over here I scored two goals in their barn and I’ve had a good feeling against them ever since.”
Haines revealed that proving the early season critics wrong made the weekend success taste all the sweeter.
“I know that in the first half of the year we struggled, but we stuck with it,” he said.
“Dutes took a lot of flak, and the players did too, with people calling for the team to be sacked. I saw the same thing two years ago.
“I know there are a tonne of people who stuck with us through it all, but I’m glad we overcame that adversity.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys - but the work’s not done because we have a huge weekend ahead of us.
“We’ve earned it and we’re looking forward to it.”
Haines was part of the only previous Flyers side to reach the EIHL play-off finals weekend, losing 1-0 to Belfast Giants in a tight semi-final two years ago.
“I think back to that Nottingham weekend lots and how close we were,” he said.
“We’re going to go down there and give it our all, and hopefully come out victorious.
“It’s my third season here and while things haven’t always been great they’ve stuck with us, believed in us, and I’d like nothing more than to win a trophy end of the year.
“This is the longest I’ve played for one team since college and this feels like home now. It was sad to play the last home game of the season in the barn on Saturday.
“I was just thrilled with how it finished, and the fans were great.
“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made.
“We’ve worked hard all season to come to this point and we’re going to take advantage of it.”