Cardiff Devils may be questioning their decision to part company with Paul Crowder after the Fife Flyers’ forward moved to the top of the Elite League points scoring charts.
Crowder was part of Cardiff’s league and play-off winning side last season, and while he thoroughly enjoyed his year in the Welsh capital, he admitted he felt under appreciated at times with limited ice time opportunities.
The 33-year-old was released in the summer, but quickly found a new home in Fife, where he has become an integral part of the side, scoring one goal and 11 assists in his five league appearances thus far.
His 2.4 points per game ratio is currently the best in the EIHL, and he puts his success down to the faith put in him by Flyers coaches Todd Dutiaume and Jeff Hutchins.
“The season is going really well and it’s been a good start for me personally,” Crowder told the Press.
“I like my team mates and my line mates - everything is clicking well.
“The coaches are giving me a lot of ice time to prove myself, which gives you confidence to keep going.
“I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I don’t think Cardiff knew what they had when they had me.
“I always wanted to play more, I just didn’t think I got the ice time.
“But they had a really good team there, so it’s tough to say that they didn’t use me properly.
“It always a tough job for the coach, and I didn’t blame him for that. He’s a good coach, which he proved by winning back-to-back titles.
“I had a couple chances on the powerplay at first, but then I got hurt and when I came back I didn’t get the chance again. I was mostly third line centre, with the odd penalty kill.
“I like playing a lot - the more I play the better I feel I play - so it’s good for me here.
“You don’t feel like you’re ever out of the game so you’re heads always in it, and if you make a mistake you’re right back on the ice.”
Despite his successful year in Cardiff, winning the two major honours on offer, Crowder admits he would not swap his current situation for a return to the Welsh club.
“We love it here,” he said. “I really liked Cardiff and was hoping to go back, but if I had the choice to go back to Cardiff or stay here, I’d stay here.
“I like the atmosphere here. Nothing wrong with Cardiff but it just seems a lot more my style here.
“My wife and kids love it here too. It’s a smaller town, but there’s so much to do, especially for families.”
Crowder moved to Kirkcaldy with his wife Erin and their children Oliver (5) and Charles (1), with the oldest enrolled in the Learn to Play programme at Fife Ice Arena.
“I’m never away from the rink, even on my day off!” Crowder said.
The Victoria, British Columbia native also revealed a connection to one of his team mates stretching back to their youth.
“James Isaacs used to come to my dad’s hockey camps back home,” he said.
“I actually used to coach him growing up. He was a little chubby guy, and I was a big guy ... now he’s a big guy!
“It’s weird but also fun to now be playing on the same team with him.
“That’s the great thing about hockey. If you play for a long time you end up playing with people you never thought you would.”