Bari's delight to be back on the ice for Fife Flyers
Fife Flyers star Bari McKenzie says he’s delighted to be back in front of the club’s passionate fans.
The forward is one of the few familiar faces in the new look team having been the first player to resign once ice hockey had been given the green light to return.
He says it’s huge relief to be able to get back on the ice, meet his new team mates and play in front of the Flyers fans after lockdown, which he admits he personally found tough going.
"It was almost like being in retirement mode,” he said. It was difficult.
"It wasn’t very nice to be honest.
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“I tried to keep myself busy. I got married, I was playing golf and I had work.
“Everyone was in the same position of course.
"It wasn’t just me as a hockey player, everyone’s lives in general were completely turned on their heads for the last two years.
“But looking on the bright side, we’ve now started up again and for me its such a great thing.
I really missed it and it’s great to be back.
“It’s been a long time and it’s been a tough few weeks.
“It’s takes time to get your feet back.
"With skating you’re having to go up another level so it takes a bit of time to get back to that and adapt to it.
“I’m really excited.
"Granted, the results at the weekend weren’t great, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it.”
As well as getting back into the old routine, the 35-year-old is having to get to know his new team mates as almost every player in the club’s roster is new to the Fife Ice Arena.
The Scot says relationships can take time to build, both on and off the ice.
“You’re having to get to know the new guys,” he says.
"Not just on the ice, off the ice as well, you’re getting to know the characters in different guys.
“On the ice you’re trying to line up together. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we have shown glimpses.
“Special teams have been good and the guys are good players and they will find that chemistry between each other.
“That will just come naturally to them but it will take a bit of time. I don’t think there’s any need to panic.
"I think we will come good. It’s not like we’re a bad side.
“We didn’t play well on Saturday [against Coventry] but we played well on Sunday.
"I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game.
“The more we train together the easier it will get for us as players.
“I think in the long term it will be good.”
As to matters on the ice, McKenzie admits the scorelines in the first weekend back were disappointing.
However he is adamant that there are plenty of positives to take and says that the team will come good sooner rather than later.
“As a team we didn’t play very well at Coventry. We were off the pace a wee bit.
“Before Covid hit Coventry were absolutely flying and hardly lost a game.
“They’ve kept a large part of that squad together and it looks like they’ve kicked on.
“Without being negative, you can go there, play well and still get beaten.
"Coventry is a hard place to go to.
“The goals we conceded were preventable. They came from our mistakes.
"So to come away at 2-0, knowing the goals were preventable, I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks.
“If we had taken our chances it would have been different.
"We were a wee bit off the pace so we need to build on the positives and correct the negatives.
“Against Belfast, for us as players, it was great to see our fans there.
“They are really passionate and noisy and that gives us an extra little boost.
“It’s great to be back in front of them in Kirkcaldy, that’s for sure.
“When you look at the game we had a few breakaways, it could have been 3 or 4-0 to us at one stage if we had taken our chances, though some people might disagree with me.
“Belfast are one of the better teams in the league and they will be up there challenging for the title at the end of the year.
“So, taking the scoreline away and look at some of our play, you have to take positives from it.
“I thought we played well, or at least, we didn’t play badly.
This weekend Flyers will look to pick up the first win of the new season; firstly in a Challenge Cup match with Dundee Stars, before travelling to Cardiff Devils in the EIHL on Sunday.
McKenzie says: “We can’t go into these games with a negative attitude.
“We know it will be a tough game against Dundee. They’ve improved and like us they’ve got a new team.
“We need to start well and have a good 60 minute game. Hopefully the result will follow.
“Cardiff will be tough. The travelling in the league is sometimes difficult but you just have to get used to it.
“You need to adapt your body for the long trips to Cardiff and places.
“But we do make stops for guys to eat and stretch their legs and stuff. It’s not like we’re on the bus for nine hours.
“Cardiff is a tough place to go purely because they are a very good team.
“They come out hard for the first five or 10 minutes and if we’re not ready as a team it could be along night for us.
“We need to be switched on from the start and match their pace and intensity.
“Cardiff have been the same for years, it’s a tough place but you never know what might happen.
“We’ve gone down there and won before so there’s no reason what we can’t do it again.”