Fife Flyers forward Justin Fox reckons that the weekend victories over Manchester Storm can be the springboard for a successful second half of the season.
The 29-year-old Canadian scored the empty net clincher at the end of Sunday’s 3-1 success at Fife Ice Arena, which followed a 4-2 road win in Manchester the previous night.
Fox told the Press: “It was a huge weekend - not only in terms of conference and standings - but overall for the morale of the team.
“We weren’t really happy with how the first stretch of conference games went.
“This weekend was essential to getting us back in the conference - that puts us into second and now we’ve got Braehead in our sights.
“We’re looking to build on a new year and start fresh, and no better way to do it than a four point weekend.”
Fox insisted that a key factor was the return of steady three-line hockey with eight import forwards icing for the first time in over a month.
“It’s tough competing when you’re only running four or five import forwards,” Fox said. “I’ll give credit to our Brits – they filled in and did a great job – but it’s real nice having a full line-up up front again.
“It gives guys an extra break and allows you to stay fresh in those crucial moments. I think we won Sunday’s game because of that.
“A few weeks ago we’d be rolling five forwards every other shift and it would be tough coming back in that type of game, but I feel we got better as Sunday’s game went on.
“When you roll three lines you’re basically taking away four or five shifts a period so if you put that into perspective over 60 minutes – especially a hard match up like that where it’s back and forth and non stop –it goes a long way.”
Fox certainly needed his energy for the final stages of Sunday’s match as he was part of the Flyers penalty killing unit that stayed on the ice for the final 2 minutes 49 seconds as Storm launched a six-on-four powerplay.
He just had enough left in the tank to score an empty net goal as the clock struck zero.
“I’ve been getting a good razzing about that, but I’ll take it,” he said.
“It was a less than ideal situation to finish the game but Owey did a great job again - he made some big stops and our D made some blocks, it was just that kind of desperation moment.
“All four of us were out there for full two and a half minutes but in that moment you don’t even realise you’re tired because things happen so quickly and you’re just trying to survive.”
The four point swing took Flyers above Manchester into second place in the Gardiner Conference standings, although they remain nine points behind leaders Braehead Clan.
Fox insists, however, that the title is still up for grabs.
“Everyone needs to understand it’s a long season,” he said. “You’re not going to win the conference in the first two months, or four months, but you can put yourself in a good position.
“We just need to string some wins together and right now we’re playing the right way, everyone is chipping in, and we’re getting team wins.
“I think we’re really starting to gel, playing the right way and the thing that’s most encouraging is that we’re not relying on one line, or one guy to do it.
“We have individuals playing great right now, but we have multiple scorers every night and we’re getting team wins.
“As long as we can keep playing a team game and stick to the systems I think we’ll be fine.”