A player’s importance to his team can often be measured by how much they are missed and that was certainly the case with Chase Schaber.
The Fife Flyers forward returned to action last week for the first time since suffering a serious groin injury in a 7-5 win over Nottingham Panthers on October 20.
In his third year at the club, the 28-year-old has become a key leader, both on and off the ice, and the duration of his absence, missing 22 games in total, was felt across the bench.
His return is a significant boost and while he admits he is not 100 per cent healed, his presence alone is sure to have a positive impact in the second half of the campaign.
“I’ve missed being on the ice and being around the guys in the locker room,” he told the Press.
“I was going a bit stir crazy there for a while being away from it all, but it’s good to be back, and seeing the team back to full strength.
“Now we can build towards our end goal.
“I’m not feeling like I did before the injury, and there’s a few things I have to change up in my game, but adapting isn’t a problem for me.
“It’s frustrating, because I’m not used to it, but I’ll find my way, I always do.
“As long as I’m around the guys and I can be a positive influence in there, that’ll give a lot of guys an extra boost, and we can make a run at this.”
On the decision to postpone the recovery process in order to return to the ice, Schaber added: “There’s still some pain, but it can be mind over matter, although it gets to a certain point where the body can only handle so much.
“I’m fine right now. The doctors say no more damage can be done, it’s just having to deal with it.
“Those are the cards I’ve been dealt so I just have to play them.
“The plan is to play out the rest of the year then look at my options.”
Scoring a particularly well-taken goal – his third of the season – in the 6-2 win over Nottingham Panthers on Saturday was as effective as any painkiller.
“It’s been a while since I put the puck in the back of the net so that was definitely nice,” he said.
“It was great to see the team rally together in a tough building in Nottingham, and pull out a win like that.
“It was unfortunate we had to come back and have a bit of a relapse against Cardiff, but games like that happen.
“We were on the bus all night, got home late, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Schaber has grown into a team leader throughout his three years in Fife, and it’s a responsibility he thrives on.
“I’ve enjoyed being leaned on as one of the key leaders in the past couple of years,” he said.
“I give all the credit to Dutes and Hutch – you can tell they were great leaders back in the day and they still are.
“They are great coaches and they handle us really well.
“I wouldn’t be here without Dutes and Hutch believing in me, complementing me as a player, and moulding me into what Fife would see as a leader.
“I see that now, and when you see guys respond to that it’s a good feeling.
“I’m getting older but I still love doing what I do, which is working hard, voicing my opinion when it needs to be heard, and going out there and trying to lead by example.”