Positivity is key for Fife Flyers defenceman Rick Pinkston
Rick Pinkston personified Fife Flyers' spirit of recovery on Sunday night with three assists and a man of the match performance in the victory over Manchester Storm.
The previous night, the defenceman and his team mates had been booed by their own fans as they threw away a two-goal lead at the halfway point to lose 8-3 at home to Cardiff Devils.
But they put that behind them to snap a six-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win at the Storm Shelter, with Pinkston playing a key role at both ends of the ice.
“We just tried to go into Sunday’s game as positive as possible,” he said.
“It showed what a good attitude can do for you going into a game.
“We gave it a full 60 minutes and went back to the normal Flyers team we’re used to playing as.”
Those six games without a win put a dent in Flyers’ early season momentum, dropping them from second to fourth in the EIHL standings, but Pinkston never lost faith in himself or his team mates.
“I’ve been on successful teams before where they go through spells like that,” he said.
“It’s normal. Look at any successful team, and I’d be surprised if you don’t see stretches where they faced some kind of adversity.
“I’d much rather it happened now than in April going into a championship battle.
“For our team, I knew we had the talent and character inside the room to make sure we came out of this on the right side.”
Flyers appeared to be on their way to a much-needed win on Saturday when they established a 2-0 lead over Devils, but the loss of seven unanswered goals in 18 minutes left the team shell-shocked.
“The way we started off it felt like we were back to our old selves,” Pinkston said.
“When you go through stretches, sometimes you grip your stick a little too tight, and once they scored that first one we got a little antsy, and got into our own heads.”
Pinkston also stressed that the defence-alone was not to blame for the loss of the eight goals.
He said: “In our zone, what people need to realise, it’s a full team aspect.
“Night in, night out it’s not just forwards who aren’t producing, or defenceman who aren’t defending, or the goaltender not saving pucks.
“Everybody works together. If there’s one weak link in the chain, the whole chain breaks.
“It’s getting everyone on board to play well defensively.”
The 28-year-old said he had no qualms with the Fife support venting their frustration on Saturday.
“When you have an invested fan base like that, and people take it that passionately, it’s understandable,” he said.
“You’re allowed to get frustrated, and when things aren’t going well, you’re obviously going to be disgruntled.
“I’m a passionate fan myself, and I’m the same when my team’s not doing well back home.
“When you’re doing well it’s just as good to hear the encouragement. Our fans are second to none when things are looking good.”
Pinkston skated forward to lay on the assist for Paul Crowder’s vital OT winner in Manchester. With 17 points (2+15) in 25 games he is Fife’s top scoring D-man, already a career best in his first season playing outside his USA homeland.
“I’m loving it – it’s great,” he said. “It’s a much more wide open style of hockey.
“There’s a lot more skating which bodes well for my type of game, and I’m allowed a little more leeway offensively here to be creative.
“I always felt that was something I possessed but was never really one to try to use it.
“I was always a more defensive first guy, so it’s something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
“It’s made hockey fun again.”