Peter LeBlanc believes team spirit can carry injury-hit Fife Flyers through their challenging end of season fixture schedule and into the play-off finals.
The 30-year-old centreman scored a hat-trick as short-benched Flyers snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory over Edinburgh Capitals on Tuesday.
With several injuries restricting the team to two-line hockey, or less, for most of the past fortnight, LeBlanc admits it has been tough on the remaining players.
To make matters worse, Flyers are finishing the regular season with an incredible 12 games in 22 days, but the former NHLer reckons team character will get them through it.
“I’ve played a long time professionaly and have never been a part of this many comebacks, or scored so many goals with the goalie pulled,” he said.
“It says a lot about our team and our spirit.
“Injuries happen during the year, and it’s happened at a poor time for us, but it hasn’t really affected our mentality. It’s just a hill you have to climb.
“Hopefully we’re getting over it, and with guys on the mend it’s going to be key for us to stay healthy at this time of year.”
LeBlanc admits that he is unaccustomed to absorbing such huge swathes of ice time.
“I haven’t played this much since minor hockey,” he said.
“Most of the leagues I’ve played in we have four lines and a feeder team.
“A couple of times I’ve been close to running empty. You think you’ve got a little bit more left in a shift, then you stay on and wish you hadn’t.
“We’ve been pretty good at sharing the load, but it’s definitely been tough at times.
“With the schedule we’ve got, it’s not the time you want to be short of bodies, that’s for sure.
“The main thing is we’re able to get guys back before the play-offs start.
“That’s our goal right now, and what the rehab team is focused on.
“If that’s the case, and we get guys back for play-offs, we’ll be in a good spot.”
LeBlanc was in fine form on Tuesday but admitted his hat-trick game after a disappointing night in Milton Keynes on Sunday.
“I dont think I could’ve put a puck in the ocean against Milton Keynes,” he said.
“I had a lot of chances and it just wouldn’t happen for me.
“Hockey’s a funny gmae like that and on Tuesday it just went in for me.
“I felt good and I got some really nice passes. They were great plays by the guys.”
LeBlanc’s midweek goal spree took him onto the 50-point mark for the first time in his career, one of four Flyers to hit the milestone this term.
“I didn’t really set a goal for myself, but it was pretty obvious when I talked to Hutch in the summer that my job was to come in and be an offensive point producer on this team,” he said.
“I think I’ve done a good job in that with my team mates this year. We’ve got a lot of talents on the team and a lot of threats up front.
“I’m definitely pleased with how the season has gone, not just for me personally, but also for the team success we’ve had this year as well.”
Fife Flyers start a weekend triple-header tonight at home to Dundee Stars (7.30 p.m) before travelling to Manchester Storm tomorrow and Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday.