Fife Flyers: how Kirkcaldy finally connected Kyle Osterberg with Tom Coolen
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The links made across the hockey community span leagues university campuses and continents, and they led both to Kirkcaldy this summer.
Osterberg’s route from the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the EIHL took him via two spells Germany and Slovakia, as well as Norway and Sweden. He was one on the first to arrive in Kirkcaldy, along with his wife, baby daughter and French Bulldog to get settled in ahead of the new season.
“I guess I’m a suitcase,” he said. “Seven season pro, six countries - you want to go somewhere you are wanted, if you enjoy it you stay, but sometimes teams might have other options. After a season in Norway, I signed to go back, but then an opportunity I came up to go to Sweden and I didn’t want to miss that. I play it by ear each summer and see which teams are interested.”
This summer, Coolen came calling.
“Tom had tried a couple of times to get me to play on his teams,” he said. “He pushed really hard and has done everything I asked of him, and been very accommodating. When you have a coach who goes out of their way to make life comfortable for your family away from the rink, that is a huge plus.
“In hockey you make connections wherever you go and meet good people - some become lifelong friends, you stay in touch and help each other out.”
Life in Fife has been good so far - “it’s a friendly town and everyone has been very welcoming” - and just one game into the league season, Osterberg is the top points scorer with a goal and four assists to his credit.
“We all came into the dressing room to a whole new group, and, from day one everyone gelled,” he said. “It helped immensely that Shane Owen, Reece Harsch and Jonas Emmerdahl were here from last season and were able to help get the guys familiarised with life over here
“We have a group of guys who like to keep it light in the room but who are also serious when we play. We are a competing team. We have a very characterised team - we go to work, we have a lot of skill which maybe some haven’t yet fully seen. We want to build on our compete level and try to win each game.”
Given the dominance of North American imports in the game the switch from Europe and Scandinavia to the UK hasn’t been a huge culture shock.
“The hockey is really good,” he said. “It’s hard to compare leagues. In some, everyone skates well, In others they play smart hockey. This league you have a bit of everything. - we have good skaters, big guys who know how to make the time and space to play a more physical game, and lot of smart guys.”“It was good to get the first goals in. Troy Lajuenesse has bagged a few too - watch him go from here. It’s just a matter of time before more pucks drop. Now we’ve opened the floodgates at Coventry I think the confidence can only grow.”