Raine looks to a solid season with Giants
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Yes, he did help the Giants to both in the Challenge Cup and the EIHL trophy and that he is rightly proud.
He explains: “The physical recover from the injury has gone great. The mental side of thing is a work in progress, I do find it sometimes hard to justify throwing myself in front of pucks in the full knowledge of how damaging they can be.
“It is something that I am working on and will continue to work on. Having had the injury I have acute knowledge of just how damaging it can be.
“I am happy enough with how I am feeling with that, I have a few extra pads, and certainly I would have been an advocate of wearing as much protection, and that is even more the case now and I have all the reason to be such an advocate now.”
Kevin adds: “I was very lucky to have the right people around me who had my best interest in their minds, and they have been with me throughout the recovery and I am very thankful for that.
“I could have jumped back into playing earlier, but I had people suggesting that I do otherwise, I was given the repercussions had I carried on playing with the injury, so I doing the safer side and didn’t play those games.”
Being a player who has gained a reputation for putting his body on the line when playing for the Giants, this needs a considerable amount of mental resilience.
He says: “I certainly recall when I came back in the early days of practice in Belfast, having not played the later games after the injury, and being put into powerplay and penalty kill situations.
You have pucks flying past you, and I thought to myself ‘wow, I dive in front of those’.
“It took me a little bit of time to re-find my groove and fall back into my role. I have to be able to do what I do instinctively without that fear.”
Reflecting on the 2021/22 season Kevin admits that the Giants’ had a great run winning both the Challenge Cup and EIHL title, but missing out on the treble after losing to the Cardiff Devils in the playoff final has left a since there is a point to be proven this season.
He says: “I think when you achieve such heights you definitely want to achieve greater. And to be able to achieve greater means that we win everything that is up for grabs. I think that can be done this season given the group of players we have on the roster.
“Keefer has brought in plenty of new talent and they sit well aside those who have returned from last season.
“It is a step by step, day by day and game by game process that we have to trust in. We will see what is to come this season, the whole squad is very excited about the opportunities ahead.
“I certainly don’t think doing the treble is out of the realm of possibilities, but if you drop two games at a weekend in September that could bite you come the end of the season.”
Kevin admits the draw back to Belfast this season was huge.
“I have been here now five seasons in the last six, having one year off because of the Covid pandemic.
“The draw back to the city is huge for me. I have established a business here, in Personal Best, and the more time that I spend here the stronger the relationships that I am building grow.
“That’s with my teammates, the staff, with the communities around us. With the establishment of that business and the messages that I plan to broadcast, a lot of people have put trust in me and intend to repay them all.
“Building relationships doesn’t happen in one season and not even two seasons, it takes several seasons.
“I think when you want to see something progress and grow, you have to continue with something.
“You can’t do that if you are playing for a brand new team each season if you are trying to win the trust of your fanbase.
“I am a person who has always wanted to see things through, grow and do things better than the previous season.”