Kyle Haines - a great team & a fun season with Flyers

Kyle Haines, Fife Flyers at the 2016 play-off finals weekend at NIC Nottingham (Pic Steve Gunn)
Kyle Haines, Fife Flyers at the 2016 play-off finals weekend at NIC Nottingham (Pic Steve Gunn)

A hockey season is packed with highlights, but Kyle Haines’ dramatic winner against Braehead Clan is a dead cert for the showreel.

With just 13 seconds left on the clock, his timing couldn’t have been any more dramatic, and the manner in which he celebrated underlined just how much it meant to the team.

It’s moments like that which make playing hockey the best sports job on the planet, and it came against a backdrop of two stunning games against Braehead Clan in front of almost 6500 fans.

“I will remember those games for a very long time, said Haines. ‘‘They were two very intense games - and even referee Alan Craig said it was a final-quality game.”

Ironically he was speaking just half an hour after the least intense game of the campaign - the third-fourth place play-off at the NIC.

The game ended in a 6-0 defeat to Cardiff Devils, but it was low-key and hit-free.

Haines put it into persective: “I will forget about this game as soon as I leave the rink.”

It wasn’t the way the team wanted to finish - the goal was the final, the target silverware - but all accepted it was part of the finals weekend, so it had to be played.

“After losing in the semi-final the season is not technically over, but it’s over,” he said. “It’s a hard game to get up for and there wasn’t much energy.

“It’s a tough way to go - you never want to go out like that - but it’s done with.

Fife Flyers at the 2016 play-off finals weekend at NIC Nottingham (Pic Steve Gunn)

Fife Flyers at the 2016 play-off finals weekend at NIC Nottingham (Pic Steve Gunn)

“We’re not going to remember our season by that last game, we’ll remember it by the run we had after Christmas and the success we had. We had a lot of fun and it was a great group of guys.”

That bond was evident in interviews conducted by Flyers’ players across the weekend, and indeed throughout the season - this was a group that simply clicked.

Haines, completing his third year, admitted it had been fun.

‘‘They’ve all been a little different but this year I’ve probably had the most fun,’’ he said. ‘‘Just the group of guys we had and the way things went away from the rink too was good. Everyone got along and no there were no problems.

“The run we had after Christmas was great fun and kinda similar to the run we had two years ago when we made it down here. We’ve had a lot of fun this year. It was a good, easy group to work with and everyone got on well.

“The three seasons have all been good - different experiences each year - but I’ve enjoyed every one. I’m not the most vocal guy but I come to the rink every day and try to work my hardest and lead by example.

“It was a lot of fun this year, and an easy group of guys to lead.”

The only ‘down’ was not making the final. A Sunday lunchtime meaningless play-off was not the way they wanted to sign off for the last time as a team.

‘‘The mood was a little strange. This was the last thing we wanted to do, but we had to do it.

‘‘You look at guys like Danny and TJ and who knows how much longer they’ll play. It’s tough to see if guys like that are finished, but the boys were excited to make it down here, and it’s been a fun trip.

‘‘A lot of us are used to the play-offs back home where they span over four, six or eight weeks. I don’t think that was a factor at the weekend. We really wanted to beat Braehead, which was a huge accomplishment, and we just fell short against Nottingham.

“They were a solid team with four deep lines, and it was tough to compete against them. It helps when they are at home and have half the rink behind them .

“I wish it could’ve been different but we’re going to hold our heads up high. We wanted to win a trophy but we’re proud of what we accomplished this year.’’

Can Flyers go head to head with big budget teams such as Nottingham? Haines believes they can.

‘‘It’s a one-off game,’’ he said. ‘‘With a couple of different bounces the game against Nottingham could have gone our way and we could have been in the final.

‘‘It’s tough to compete against these teams with big budgets and they’re carrying extra imports, and top-quality Brits playing with the GB team - but our directors did a heck of a job this year, bringing guys in and letting us run with an extra import.

‘‘They did whatever they needed to do for us be competitive, and I give them credit because that made a difference in our season.

We’ll definitely be the underdogs in this league, but Fife has potential to win a trophy down here - definitely.’’

Whether that includes Haines in a gold, white and blue top should be known soon.

Like all players he’s looking forward to taking a break and meeting up with family ‘back home’.

“I’m not too sure what my plans are yet,” he said. ‘‘They’ve treated me very well - Tom, all the directors, Todd, Danny - they’ve given me every opportunity and I’m very thankful.

‘‘I’ll have to take some time to think about it, look back, and see what direction I want to go.

‘‘ I fly home this week so it will be nice to see some family and friends, unwind and get away from the game for a bit.’’

But he still has no desire yet to hang up his skates.

‘‘There are time in the season when you’re like, ‘oh man, what am I doing?’ but then you win some games and have success and you remember hockey is fun,’’ he said. ‘‘There are always going to be tough times during a season, but getting down here to Nottingham and having the success we did at the end makes it all worthwhile.

‘‘I’m 28 and I don’t know how long I’ll play, but as long as my body is able to, and I’m having fun, I’ll keep playing.’’