Ice hockey has a rich history of play-off traditions and superstitions.
The most popular is the play-off beard, which must remain unshaven until the team is eliminated.
Who could forget Matt Nickerson’s iconic ‘Fear the Beard’ and subsequent charity shave for CHAS two years ago?
This year, Fife Flyers forward Shayne Stockton has gone for a slightly different approach - the play-off haircut.
Fans may have noticed the 27-year-old American’s appearance changing over the course of the season.
A normal short hairstyle turned into one that started to sprout out from underneath his helmet like an overgrown field.
And last week, in the build-up to the Braehead Clan quarter-final, he revealed his new play-off look, one that really has no description.
After letting team mate Nic Rioux loose with the clippers, Stockton was left with shaved sides, a mullet and a mohawk all rolled into one.
If Flyers go on to win the play-off title, perhaps a few more players will be carrying the look next year.
“I’ve been doing it for a few years now,” Stockton told the Press. “I started it when I was young back in juniors and did it last year too.
“It’s just something fun to do. “I grew my hair all season and it’s time to chop it off at the end anyway, so I might as well do something for play-offs.
“It’s not the best looking hair, but it’s just a little superstition I guess and it’s been working. Nic did a pretty good job on it, but he could’ve done a little better.”
Stockton is relishing the chance to compete for a play-off championship in only his second year as a senior pro after narrowly missing out with Amiens in France last season.
“This is just my second year pro, and last year we lost in the second round of final game,” he said.
“We were one game away from making it to the finals, so it wasn’t the way we wanted it to end.
“In college we never won a championship either, but we came pretty close.
“We had the same type of final four weekend and lost in the semis, so hopefully it’ll be different this year.”
Play-offs are the time of season that hockey players live for, and Stockton is no different.
“When February and March comes around it’s hard not to think of play-off hockey,” he said. “It’s a new season, it’s a lot more intense and it’s a win or go home mentality.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking and really exciting to play in those types of games.
“We enjoyed the series win in Braehead on Sunday, and it’s time to get back to work ahead of the finals in Nottingham.”
Stockton looked back on the weekend quarter-final matches against Braehead as some of the most high pressure play-off hockey he has been involved in.
“All play-off hockey is intense,” he explained. “But going into OT in the final game? It doesn’t get any more intense than that.
“OT was the most intense five minutes of hockey I’ve played in a long time and was definitely exciting - especially with the outcome.
“It had been a back and forth game, and then it was just five minutes left to give everything you had. We played well in OT and lucky enough we got the job done.”
Stockton provided the crucial assist on TJ Caig’s winning goal, which came with just 22 seconds to spare.
“TJ and I matched up well out there for the final minute and were fortunate enough to score that OT goal,” he said. ‘‘Credit to the coaches for putting the right guys together for those moments.
“I’ve played with TJ a little bit this season, not too much, maybe for a couple of weeks, but you practice together every day and you know each other’s tendencies, so it’s not completely new. It just worked out.”
Reflecting on a “crazy” season, Stockton added: “Any team goes through ups and down through the year.
“We had our lows and we also had our highs, and as a team we’ve grown through it together. We know what we have to do night in night out, and that we rely on each other to do each other’s parts.
“Braehead was the higher seed, so winning that series shows the type of guys we have in the room. Anything can happen now in Nottingham.
“We’re a confident team right now and we’ll go in with that mentality of focusing on the first game, and winning it.”
Flyers fans are expected to travel to Nottingham in their hundreds and Stockton expects this to give the team a huge boost.
“Our fans have been great all year, especially at home but on the road as well,” he said. “We’ve had a good following wherever we’ve gone and that helps us out.
“It gives us a little boost, and a sold out crowd down there this weekend is going to be a really good atmosphere.
“Having a big Fife support motivates us a little extra and makes for a more exciting game.”