Birbraer still playing to the Max

Birbraer "semi-retired" this summer, but was back to help out Swindon last week (PHOTO: Kat Medcroft)

Swindon Wildcats winger Max Birbraer admits his body is still getting used to the schedule of working full time and playing.

The 38-year-old, who announced his “semi-retirement” this summer after landing a full time job in the summer is back to help out Aaron Nell’s side, who have been shorthanded with injuries.

And Birbraer, who first played over 20 years, insists his return is only a short term measure despite picking up eight points in Wildcats’ opening weekend last week.

“I wouldn’t use the term ‘enjoyment’ to describe juggling the job and playing hockey,” he told this week’s British Ice Hockey podcast. 

“Logistically, mentally and physically, it’s very hard and that’s why when Aaron (Nell) approached me, I made it clear I couldn’t do it seven days a week if I committed to both games at the weekend.

“I didn’t mind coming in for a few games, but I couldn’t do it full time.  I got a taste of it this week with the two games, then going to work and it wasn’t nice at all.

“I got back from Hull at 3.30am then going out to work a couple of hours later, it wasn’t fair to my job as well.  Enjoyment is not the word to use, but I’m curious how other guys with full time jobs and playing full time.  Maybe they don’t have kids.

“It’s great for self reassurance to get the points that I did.  You have your doubts coming in, especially if you haven’t prepared like you would have normally in the summertime.”

Birbraer picked up eight points last weekend as Wildcats got three points in the opening NIHL National League weekend (PHOTO: Kat Medcroft)

It was a high scoring weekend that saw the Wildcats defeat Raiders 9-6 before being edged out 7-6 after overtime at Hull Pirates on Sunday.

Birbraer, with three goals and five assists, is second only to team-mate Tomasz Malasinski, with nine points.

The former Cardiff Devils and Telford Tigers man says there is work to be defensively done after conceding 13 goals, but insists it’s too early to get an idea of how Swindon could do even if they get maximum points against Peterborough Phantoms and his old team, Tigers.

He added: “To be honest, the weekend for us wasn’t completely satisfying and it’s clear there was some work needed in defence, but I suppose that’s a reflection from across the league with lots of goals being conceded across the board.

“I don’t know what caused it, but I’ll bet Aaron will come up with a plan for the guys to watch some videos and work on them.

“To lose 13 goals is two games in unacceptable for the standard Aaron is trying to build as a team that wants to win the league again.

“The competition has increased with the teams from the other league coming up and that was our first test against Hull and to pick up a point there was a good one.

“Even if we got two wins this weekend, it’s still too early to tell how things might pan out. Peterborough will be a tough test for sure and Telford will be the same and it’s a matter of setting that bar again, but we need to correct the mistakes.”

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