This time last year, Carlo Finucci was still waiting on the call from Fife Flyers.
After a largely disappointing 2016-17 for the team, it took the club until mid-August to make their move for the left wing forward, who had shown only glimpses of his potential during his debut season in the Elite League.
What a difference a year makes.
Fast forward 12 months and, following a successful campaign that culminated in a Gardiner Conference championship, a trip to the play-off finals weekend, and several huge wins south of the border, Finucci is among the first to be re-signed for 2018-19.
On top of the team’s success, the 31-year-old had an outstanding individual season, topping the club’s scoring charts with 30 goals and 36 assists in 59 appearances, earning him a place among the top 10 forwards in the EIHL.
He also scored some important goals, none more so than the dramatic overtime winner in Manchester which sealed a remarkable comeback and clinched Fife’s place in the Nottingham final four.
His points ratio, allied to his overall performance levels, made the Canadian-Italian dual national a wanted man this summer, but to the delight of the coaching staff, and the fans he has completley won over, Finucci pledged his future to Fife.
“There were a few factors that played into my decision to return,” he told the Press.
“A big one was the relationship with the coaching staff and how much responsibility they gave me last season.
“I couldn’t have asked for more from Dutes and Hutchy especially the trust they had in me in all situations.
“Also knowing the organisation and the huge step forward they took last season.
“There is a lot behind the scenes that people don’t see, we really get taken care of.
“And ultimately coming back to a town you’re comfortable in, have friends made over the last couple seasons and getting to play in front of the Fife faithful again.
“The energy in that building when we are going is like nothing else.”
Finucci, who got married in Mexico at the end of the season, admitted that he had to weigh up his future.
“I had some options within the league and few places in Europe after having, I felt, a strong season,” he said.
“I looked at all of them and their pros and cons. The only place that really felt right was coming back to Fife.
“It’s not too often a players gets to play back to back seasons for the same club nowadays as there is so much turnover.
“I’m going into my third season in Fife and I’m really lucky to be able to do that.”
Finucci scored almost double the number of points in his second season, which he puts down to his partnership with line mate, Shayne Stockton, and the faith placed in him by the coaching staff.
“I had a full season pretty much with Stocks and we linked really well together,” Finucci said.
“Power play time, which I didn’t have in my first season, and just overall more confidence in my abilities and having a season in the league under my belt were all factors too.
“We had some big wins throughout season, including a couple short-staffed, but sealing up the conference in Dundee and of course the second leg comeback in Manchester is something that still brings a big smile to my face.”
With the new EIHL season now just two months away, Finucci is hoping to pick up where he left off in April.
“I want to build on everything we achieved last year,” he said.
“Personally, I’m not satisfied with last season. I want to be better and achieve greater things – that is what is driving me this off-season.”
While ice hockey is his profession, Finucci also has a passion for football, and he is currently enjoying watching the World Cup in Russia.
“I have been glued to it!” he revealed. “I am huge football fan and sadly for the first time in my life my Italy isn’t in the World Cup but my mother is Mexican, so I have been cheering for them.
“They are doing great so far so I hope they go all the way!”