Fife Flyers forward Carlo Finucci feels like a weight his been lifted off his shoulders now that he has proved he can score goals in the Elite League.
After starting his campaign with a bang, grabbing an overtime winner in Braehead on the opening weekend of the season, the 29-year-old subsequently endured a barren run of 16 games without a goal.
The longer the famine went on, the more heavily it weighed on a player desperate to prove his EIHL credentials after making the step up from the second tier EPL in the summer.
Things changed in the blink of an eye for Finucci on November 6 as he broke the spell with a long-awaited goal in a 4-0 win over Cardiff Devils, and since then, he has looked a different player.
His season’s tally now reads 10 goals and 11 assists, including a hot streak over the festive period when he struck five times in four games, and the Canadian-Italian admits his confidence is back.
“I started off pretty well out the gate in the Challenge Cup, then I hit a bit of a rough patch - and it was tough,” he told the Press.
“At first I needed to get used to the league, new systems, and even the chemistry of line mates.
“Some nights it felt like I was playing with a new line every shift because of injuries.
“It was tough, but there’s no excuses.
“You’ve got to work through that stuff – it happens to the best players in the world – and I’m just glad I was able to get some pucks in the net these last 20 games or so.
“I’d had clear opportunities before that night against Cardiff and had hit a few posts, then I just stand in front of the net and the puck hits my stick and goes in.
“That’s hockey. All of a sudden you’re playing 20lbs lighter, shots start going in, and it gets to the point where everytime you throw it on net, you feel it might go in.
“You want to try and limit those lows, but you’re going to go through them, and it’s part of the game. Things have been pretty positive since then.
“We’ve got guys that have been brought in to produce big numbers and I’m just hoping I can produce any chance I get, and do everything I can to help the team win.
“Everyone needs to do that now, it’s a big time for us.”
Finucci’s hot streak continued as he grabbed what proved to be the winning goal in a 4-3 victory over Edinbrugh Capitals on Sunday, which followed a 4-3 overtime defeat to Dudnee Stars on Saturday.
The three points, coupled with Braehead Clan’s failure to score any, saw Flyers claim fifth place in the EIHL standings, as well as close the gap in the Gardener Conference title race from nine to six points.
“It was a good weekend for us, “Finucci said. “We were gunning for four points, but we’ll take three, especially with Braehead dropping two games.
“We’ve brought that gap down to six points and we play them three more times - that’s the six points right there.
“We’re going to lose hockey games in the next two months, they will too.
“It’s just important that we keep building on what we’re doing right now and don’t let the good work we’ve put in the last six or seven games slip away from us.”