Robby Sandrock wants to end career with Belfast Giants
When Robby Sandrock returned to the Belfast Giants at the start of last season after spending 10 years in Germany, it was the club's link with the University of Ulster that attracted him back to Northern Ireland.
This year, with his Masters completed, the draw of playing for a team that is certain to be challenging for honours and in a city that he loves was enough to bring the 35-year-old back to the Odyssey Arena.
Retirement was an option, but after taking the advice of friends and former team-mates it wasn't one he was keen to take.
When that time comes, however, Sandrock expects to retire as a Belfast Giants player.
"I liked it when I was here last year and when I was here 10 years ago too. I've had a phenomenal time in Belfast – it's a great city, the organisation is great and we are treated very well," said Sandrock, ahead of this weekend's double-header against the Cardiff Devils, at the Belfast Odyssey tonight and tomorrow.
"There really wasn't a question for me about coming back. The team wanted me to come back, I wanted to come back and it was done pretty quickly. It was a really easy decision.
"This will probably be the last place that I play professionally. Whether that's this year or the year after I don't know yet, but this will probably be where I retire.
"I have friends back home who have been retired for 10-15 years and are in a nine-to-five job and they keep telling me to play as long as I can. I am going to take their advice.
"I'll keep playing as long as my legs will keep going, be that one year, two years, who knows."
During his first spell at the Odyssey, Sandrock was one of the big reasons why the team reached the Super Final of the Continental Cup and finished the season as Play-off champions.
Last season was shrouded in disappointment both personally and for the team when for the second time as a Giant, Sandrock finished as a runner-up in the league and then experienced the same upset on Play-off weekend.
That is something that he is determined to change.
"Whenever the days comes for me to leave Belfast I want to leave as a winner," he said.
"Nobody comes to Belfast to be a runner-up. Last year we were runners-up in two competitions and it wasn't nice. This year we are all here to win.
"The Giants have a great history of winning and every year we are challenging for the title.
"We are expecting to be there right down to the wire this year and it's going to be a good fight."
Although he is less than six months away from his 36th birthday, Sandrock isn't the oldest player in Paul Adey's team. That dubious honour belongs to Calvin Elfring, who is 37, and half the team is in the over-30 bracket.
That is a massive positive for Sandrock and with the team sitting top of the Elite League table few can argue.
"We are a little bit older, more mature and guys have a few more seasons under their belts," said Sandrock.
"We have got older, but we've got faster too.
"Dustin Whitecotton, Jeffrey Szwez and Calvin Elfring all played in the top league in Germany and Kevin Saurette was in the second league before he came here – those leagues are faster.
"They make plays a little bit quicker, skate faster and in this league, although it's a bit more physical, there is more hitting and more fighting these guys grew up in north-America so they are used to that too and it shouldn't be a problem."