Nottingham Panthers forward Nick Dineen says this season has been the most frustrating of his career.
The 32-year-old has arrived and is currently training with his new team ahead of the start of the Elite Series, taking place from Saturday.
And after an anti-climactic end to the season with Lillehammer, he’s looking forward to the opportunity Panthers have given him.
“I’m very excited to be coming over and it’s a good opportunity,” he said. “It’ll be a fun experience for me, where I play some hockey, meet new people and see new places so I’m looking forward to it.
“We’d been practicing since January 7th without playing any games, so it’s nice to be able to prepare, knowing there’s something at the end of it. It’s definitely been the most frustrating season I’ve ever had.
Skates on the ice, pucks hitting sticks, whistles being blown… Things you just love to be hearing once more! 😻 pic.twitter.com/N4W2dLA0DI
— The Nottingham Panthers | #2021EliteSeries (@PanthersIHC) March 29, 2021
“It was a week by week thing at the start and we were thinking we play on Saturday or the following Saturday and just as we were getting there, the government would pass new restrictions and we wouldn’t be able to play.
“After a month and a half, people started to lose hope and it was definitely a weird time. It’s the only way I can describe it.
“Some of us were still hoping we could play in the play-offs as time went on and have some conclusion to the season, but at the same time, it was like beating a dead cat.
“It was nice to finally get an answer when it was finally called a couple of weeks ago and it allowed us to get on with our lives.”
While Dineen has come to the UK to experience new things and a new culture, the hockey side of it may well be very familiar.
With so many players coming over from Norway, it could almost feel like a home from home for the American as he plays with and comes up against some familiar faces.
— EIHL | #2021EliteSeries (@officialEIHL) March 29, 2021
But after so much practice, he reckons it won’t be long before he finds his match sharpness, with Panthers up against Sheffield Steelers in their opening game on Saturday.
“Practice shape and game shape are two different things, but I think it’ll be easier to get back into game shape after practising for so long, but the desire to play games is very real and getting stronger every day,” he added.
“Every day we’re finding out some of the players I’ve played against are coming to the UK to play so it’s going to be fun.
“I think it’ll be in an environment where we can maybe get to know them a bit. Sure, I’ve played against them and know how they are on the ice so we know what we’re in for.
“Brendan (Ellis) and I have played together for four years at Lillehammer and sit next to each other in the locker room. We’ve grown close so it’ll be good to be able to share in this experience together in Nottingham.
“Any time you can get out and try something new, it’s exciting.”