With his body in bits after an injury-hit season, Kyle Horne spent last summer wondering whether his ice hockey playing days were over.
When fully fit, Horne can be among the best British defencemen in the EIHL, but after turning up to Fife Flyers pre-season training out of shape, he subsequently found himself out of the team.
The 35-year-old spent the early months of the season on the sidelines, but the determination that has kept him at the top level of the sport in the UK for the past 20 years shone through.
Horne has battled back to fitness, reclaimed a regular place in Flyers line-up and is now getting back to his best, even managing a rare goal in each of the last two weekends.
The dark summer months now seem like a distant memory.
“It’s all been good,” Horne said, reflecting on his recent form. “I think it’s down to the team playing better, and that brings everyone else on as well.
“I’ve been taking care of myself, working out, and Dutes and the rest of backroom staff have been helping me as well.
“Injuries last year took a lot out of me and because of that I couldn’t get up to full fitness for the start of the year. It was a tough recovery and something I don’t want to look back on, because it was a horrible time.
“It’s been a slow process, painful on the mind as well as the body, but it’s all good now.”
Horne admitted that he considered retirement during the summer, although he is dreading the day when he is finally forced to hang up his skates.
“Did I ever wonder if I was coming back or not? Yes, quite a few times,” he revealed.
“The body says no and the mind says yes. I’ll play as long as I can, but it’s getting closer and closer, and I try not to think about it.”
Horne’s recent revivial would suggest that retirement might be pushed back a few years more, with goals against Coventry Blaze and Braehead Clan complementing solid defensive displays.
“The goals have been a nice little bonus,” he said. “I’ve always had problems with scoring goals, so I’m glad it’s going in. I’m just closing my eyes more I think!
“A lot of it comes down to the team clicking well. I wouldn’t say it’s a completely different atmosphere around the dressing room, but it’s a lot more confident.
“We’ve learned a lot from the start of the season to get where we are now.”
Horne last won silverware with Flyers back in 2004 as part of Mark Morrison’s BNL championship winning side.
With Flyers in great form, and firmly in the race for the Gardiner Conference title, Horne is hopeful of lifting another trophy with his home town club.
“It’s exciting but we’re trying not to think about silverware, and just focusing on winning games and seeing what happens,” he said.
“If we can win the rest of our games then we’ve left it all out there and we can let fate take its place.
“But the way the team is playing, and the work we’ve put in, I think we deserve something out of it.
“I grew up watching Fife, and I’ve got a lot of background here, so anything I can win for this club would be great.”