Belfast Telegraph

"I mean it, it's true": Belfast Giants d-man Kevin Raine stands by tweet

Belfast Giants defenceman Kevin Raine
Belfast Giants defenceman Kevin Raine
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Among the most notable parts of the Belfast Giants' title celebrations on Sunday was a surprise appearance from Oasis.

As much as having Liam and Noel Gallagher showing up to the Crowne Plaza at the Giants' end-of-season awards night would have been a shock to everyone, that wasn't the surprise - instead it was the appearance of some Oasis lyrics on Twitter.

For those not familiar with the song Don't Look Back In Anger, it starts off: "Slip inside the eye of your mind / Don't you know what you might find / A better place to play".

Late in the night, with the celebrations in full swing, Giants defenceman Kevin Raine took to social media and quoted those first three lines, before adding 'Not a f***in' chance #BleedTeal #TealArmy' in reference to playing for the Giants.

The Ontario native has found a home on Belfast's blueline for the past two seasons, and he's reciprocated the love that the city and the fans have shown to him and he's repaid it with a season that reflects his importance to the side.

He may not be the best points scorer on the team, but as a stay-at-home defenceman there are few better in the league. His physical, checking style and willingness to put his body on the line for the team have seen him give 100% every time he takes to the ice.

And in the cold light of day, Raine doesn't regret the tweet at all.

"It's the truth. We've proven that, you saw the celebration and the atmosphere around the city and the rink as of the most recent week," says the 25-year-old.

"I mean it, it's true, and we all know why. Anybody who's here on the team right now and has played in the past can vouch for that too."

Raine is coming off a superb season with the Giants, despite joining the team late in the season the Ontario native was named Defenceman of the Year at the recent Awards Dinner and is, of course, a three-trophy champion with the team.

All this after he left the team prior to the season under a bit of a cloud when he jumped to the defence of netminder Jackson Whistle, who swapped Giants teal for Steelers orange in the summer, and earned a backlash in the process.

But the turnaround has been incredible, with Raine now firmly a fan favourite with his strong performances, which he says was always going to be the way to work himself back into the good books of the Giants faithful.

"For me it was a matter of time. Everyone will make mistakes, everyone will slip up here and there. There's always two sides to a story and there's opinions everywhere," he says.

"I came to Jackson's defence and it wasn't taken to kindly by Giants fans and the people of Belfast, so I came into Belfast and thought I'd let my play speak for itself and let my on-ice passion show.

"Because I came in down a leg it put me in a bit of a focus and that helped people see what I bring every night, with the help of my team-mates."

Now, with three trophies in the cabinet already, the Grand Slam beckons. Winning the play-offs and adding another medal would cap the perfect season for this roster, one of the best assembled by the Giants.

The team are preparing for their quarter-final against the Coventry Blaze this weekend, however for Raine, he's still not convinced that the drama of winning the title on Sunday night has quite hit home just yet.

The Giants won the league at their own end-of-season awards night when the Blaze defeated the Cardiff Devils, handing Belfast their fifth title courtesy of having more regulation wins than the Devils.

"How would you be able to say has it sunk in or not?" Raine questions with a laugh.

"Every time I start to believe it, I sit down and shake my head and think wow. How is it, in a hotel lobby, we were celebrating with the people at the party we would have planned if we had won it in different fashion. How do you do that? It was amazing.

"But we want more. We're selfish. If we can complete the treble and take everything that's on the table then that makes it even more special. We want to now do something that nobody has ever done, to continue to prove how good this team is."

And to circle back to that tweet, and in keeping with the line of questioning over the last few weeks, what does the future hold for Raine?

"Right now it's all a matter of what's in front of us over the next two weeks and whatever is beyond that is out of my hands right now," he insists.

One would bet, after a season like this, he won't be short of options.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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