Liam Heelis has warned Braehead Clan that intimidation tactics won’t work after his Fife Flyers side wracked up a third straight victory over their Glasgow rivals.
The Flyers forward was targeted for verbal taunts by Clan players during the pre-match warm-up, but he answered by scoring twice in a 5-2 win, which followed equally-convincing victories over John Tripp’s side in each of the previous two weekends,
Attempts were also made to goad team mate Danick Gauthier into a fight during the match, however, Heelis insists that Fife are happy to let the scoreboard do the talking.
“Guys in their team were chirping during warm-up, we just chirp back and stick together as a group,” he said.
“It was just hockey stuff carried over from the previous game, and I think it will be like that between us over the course of our rivalry this season.
“They are a big, strong, tough, physical team, and one of their advantages can be using intimidation based on the personnel they have on their team.
“We know they are going to try and do that, and try to bully us around, but for us it’s just about pushing back, sticking together as a group and overcoming that.
“We’re just trying to play hard, and keep our composure between the whistles. We want to stick to OUR game, and that doesn’t really involve that extra physicality after whistles.
“We’re clean cut hard-working players, and people, and that’s what we want our game to reflect. When we stick to that, like on Sunday night, we see things turn out in our favour more often than not.”
Heelis is new to the EIHL this season but has quickly immersed himself in the Fife-Clan rivalry.
“The rivalry we have with that team is fantastic, so to come out and take the first three games against these guys has been great so far,” he added. “I really look forward to those games and the intensity of them - it’s unmatched.”
Despite taking a year away from playing the sport in order to finish his Masters degree, Heelis has made an impressive start to his pro career in Fife, notching 18 points in 13 games thus far.
“I’m having a blast!” he said. “It’s a great community, great team, and awesome coaches and leaders on this team to learn from.
“Being a first year professional, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m very fortunate to be in this enviironment and learn from some real professional guys, both on and off the ice.
“I’m just trying to learn a little more each and every day from my team mates and coaches.”
His year out wasn’t by choice – he had run out of eligibility to play university hockey – but it did give him the chance to see the sport in another light.
Heelis explained: “Taking a year off was great for me to see the game for another perspective, working as an assistant coach with the McGill Universtiy team and watching what goes on behind the scenes.
“There’s a lot you don’t see as a player, and a lot you can learn from seeing the game from a coaching perspective.
“There was a lot of value gained in me being patient and finishing my masters degree.”
Heelis is now looking forward to testing himself against last year’s silverware winners with EIHL play-off champions Sheffield Steelers, and league champions Cardiff Devils, visit Fife Ice Arena in back-to-back home games.
“I’m really looking forward to our matches this weekend against two teams I haven’t seen,” he said.
“When we’re on top of our game we can compete with anyone so it will be a really good test for our group and let us know where we’re at right now early in the season.
“We’ve made a really good start and want to let other teams in the league know that we’re here and we’re not backing down.”