'We never want to feel defeat again': Belfast Giants defenceman Kevin Raine keen to use play-off loss to inspire future success
Belfast Giants defenceman Kevin Raine says he's still proud of what he and his team-mates have achieved this season despite missing out on a domestic clean sweep in Sunday's Elite League Play-Off Final.
Coming into the game at Nottingham's Motorpoint Arena, the Giants needed to defeat the Cardiff Devils in order to complete the Grand Slam of domestic trophies having already won the Elite League title, the Challenge Cup and the Erhardt Conference.
However, a Gleason Fournier goal 7:33 from the end handed defending play-off champions Cardiff a 2-1 win, exacting revenge for missing out on the Elite League trophy and ending Belfast's Grand Slam hopes.
The Giants can still reflect on a hugely successful season, however this one will hurt, and Raine admits it was one they really wanted to win to send some of the players out on a high note.
British legend Colin Shields and centre Dustin Johner have already announced their retirements from the game, while it's expected there will be several departures over the summer as players get moves elsewhere.
"We've done great things this season and it's a shame we don't get more chances at (Cardiff) because I thought we were really close. Obviously not close enough," lamented Raine, who scored the Giants' only goal in the final.
"I'm really proud of the guys and I feel for the guys whose last game that might be tonight. It would have been a real storybook finish if we could have pulled it off for them. For the rest of us, we get to apply it elsewhere, remember what it's like to lose and we never want that to happen again.
"Tough, but in a one-off game as tight as that you never know what's going to happen. Hats off to (Cardiff), they had a great game over there, and I'm still really proud of every guy in our locker room."
With the season now over, the players will return home over the next week and take some time off as well as contemplating their futures, whether they be in Belfast or elsewhere.
On a positive note, they'll head back with three winners' medals to show their family and friends, which is more than they usually get given that most ice hockey teams only play for the end-of-season play-offs.
"At the end of the day we won three out of four trophies, and we have some explaining to do when we get home because usually we only get to win one!" laughs Raine.
"Very fortunate to be able to do it three times and unfortunately we didn't get to do it a fourth."
Belfast Telegraph Digital