It was the only time they’ve done it so far, but former Braehead Clan goalkeeper Kyle Jones says the quarter-final play-off victory over Nottingham Panthers has in many ways been a turning point for the club.
Between 2013 and 2015, Jones was a vital member of the squad and played a key role at the end of his first season when Clan went to Nottingham for a play-off weekend and defeated the Panthers in two matches.
But the rematch at home is one that stands out – no pun intended – due to an incident in which opponents attempted to stop the momentum of the Clan in a 5-1 win that night that completed a 9-1 overall victory, with a penalty that threatened to dash the hopes of the team.
That quarterfinal playoff was the game that seemed to catch the imagination of fans of the Clan,”That playoff quarterfinal was the game that seemed to capture the imagination of Clan fans,” We sold out the arena this season for the first time, but it was a game that I’ll never forget.
“In those two games, we beat them pretty soundly, and I’m sure they still had a full squad. It was pretty important to head into the second leg with a 4-0 lead from the away game. I remember scoring them early in the home game and I was down a bit.
There was also a penalty against me at the Panthers for getting illegal equipment. There was an issue with my stick’s curve that I used most of the year. Hats off at the time to Craig Kowalski, the goalie of the Panthers, because he knew it wasn’t right and wanted to use it against me.
“It also didn’t help that I believe the Panthers equipment manager had ordered our stuff because the two teams are joint owners,” he said.
At the right time, in the second half, they tried to play it and used it to get us into a five-on-three penalty that we killed off. It was a smart strategic decision, but thankfully, it made no difference.
Jones remains with fans a cult hero and received one of the loudest cheers when he returned in February for the testimonial game of Matt Haywood. The fact that he is the first import goalkeeper in the history of the club to return for a second season is a testimony to the respect he was held in.
He works for a Chicago insurance firm today, but he still looks back fondly on his time in Scotland.
It’s no secret how much fun I had in the Clan,” Jones continues. “I really love playing there, so I’m there every time I get the opportunity to visit, as I did with the testimonial of Matt Haywood.
Some of the experiences I’ve had seem to be like yesterday, and it’s just insane to think it’s been five and a half years since I was there. Sometimes I wish I could go back and relive it all again.
The fans were very excited about the squad, and while I would tell that you should meet the fans of the Clan and talk to them about a drink about the other places I’ve played, that was a lot of fun.
I made the decision as soon as I ended my first year in Glasgow that I was not going to go anywhere and retire there.
I loved every part of working with Ryan Finnerty as a coach, from the fans, from the people at the club, so it was a straightforward decision to return. I didn’t want somewhere else to play and I didn’t.