Pain of last year’s defeat is motivation for Clan captain Keith
MATT KEITH has urged Braehead Clan to push through the mental pain barrier when they once again dip their toe in play-off waters this weekend.
The quarter-final stage of the campaign has not been Clan’s happy place in recent seasons. With the goal of being one of the last four teams to make it to the play-off finals weekend in Nottingham, they have narrowly missed out in the last two seasons, having only ever made it once.
The most excruciating of those near misses was thrust upon them 12 months ago by arch rivals Fife Flyers. After losing the first leg in Kirkcaldy 2-1 with a late, late blow, the knock-out punch was delivered in overtime by TJ Caig as the Fifers ran out 4-3 winners on aggregate.
It was a defeat hard to stomach as the band of away supporters celebrated wildly at the Braehead Arena a year ago yesterday. The passing of time has not faded that pain for Clan captain Keith.
However, as his men now stand on the verge of another last eight two-legged knockout – this time against the Dundee Stars – he is hoping to use that heartache as motivation this time around.
“For the guys who have been here the last two years it’s fresh on our mind, it does bother you and you’d hate for it to happen again,” he said.
“It’s disappointing. For every team that makes it this far it can be hard. For me, you definitely look back on it and you realise how close we were the last two years.
“We want to get over that hump. I’ve been in the game for years but it was hard to take. Last year it was two good teams playing hard.
“You just have to use it as motivation and how you don’t want it to happen again. There’s not much room for error.”
Clan cruised to becoming Gardiner Conference champions last month, but the gap between that silver success and this point has been far from smooth. 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB. email: [email protected]herald.co.uk. Tel 0141 302 6590 Head of Sport: Stewart Weir
A resurgent last few months have seen Braehead pick their game up and Keith is pragmatic about a recent dip over their final handful of games.
He said: “We are pretty healthy and at this time of year everyone is playing through bumps and bruises.
“Overall we feel confident. We are going up against a good team that we’ve had good games against. They have a lot of firepower.
“We need to prepare well this week and make sure we are ready to go in Dundee on Saturday.”