In his four seasons with the Belfast Giants, defenceman Kevin Raine has continually laid his body on the line time and again for the cause — literally.
The human equivalent of a magnet, the Ontario man seems to attract pucks and has been one of the leading players for the Giants, and indeed the Elite League as a whole, in blocked shots in every season he’s played in Belfast, putting himself at risk to give his side the best chance of winning trophies.
And it was that dedication that actually left him unable to celebrate their latest piece of silverware; Raine unaware he had become an Elite League champion for the second time as he was undergoing surgery while overtime and the shoot-out was taking place in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Sheffield Steelers.
The 28-year-old, in laying out to block a shot in Saturday’s 3-1 victory, took a puck to the groin that required a trip to Chesterfield Royal Hospital for surgery to fix. Although he wasn’t able to celebrate with his team on the ice, they stopped in at the hospital on the way back to their hotel to inform him of the good news.
Raine himself was able to laugh about it afterwards, joking in an Instagram post that he “literally gave (his) left nut” for the title, and it is that team-first attitude that makes him not just an excellent team-mate on the ice, but an exemplary one off it, too.
“Kevin Raine is the ultimate team-mate. He is the most selfless, slow to speak, humble person I’ve ever had as a team-mate,” praised captain David Goodwin.
“I would argue he’s one of the top-two, top-three most valuable players in this league. He’s the horse of our team.
“We missed him (on Sunday) and to be able to bring the trophy home for him is very emotional for me. Kevin and I are really good friends, I’ve leaned on him a lot this year due to the struggles and difficulties of being captain and he has been a rock.
“This would not have been possible without Kevin Raine for a lot of different reasons. He’s one of our MVPs. We love him greatly and we’re looking forward to him being back in Belfast and joining our celebrations.”
Meanwhile, netminder Tyler Beskorowany insists he doesn’t want to miss out on the Grand Slam for a second time in his Belfast Giants career as they look to complete a treble in the upcoming Play-Offs.
Like this season, three years ago the Giants first took possession of the Challenge Cup and Elite League titles to set up a potential Grand Slam, however they would lose in the Play-Off Grand Final to the Cardiff Devils.
With the league now secure, the Giants can focus their full attention to attempting the clean sweep again when the Play-Offs begin next weekend, and Beskorowany is determined not to feel the heartbreak of missing out for a second time in a Giants jersey.
“Having that play-off trophy slip away is definitely playing in the back of my mind. I definitely want to have that one this year and get the Grand Slam,” says Beskorowany, who stopped six shots in the shoot-out on Sunday.
“We’re going to enjoy this for a bit but, once we get back in, we’ll get serious and ready for the play-offs. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves and we have to keep that going right throughout the play-offs to try and complete the treble.”