DANNY Stewart knows there are bad times ahead for Newcastle Vipers this season – but believes his players have the character to shrug them off.
Stewart’s team go into an Elite League double-header with Braehead Clan this weekend hoping to build on victories over Edinburgh Capitals and Coventry Blaze.
However, this season every silver lining seems to have a cloud.
Having lost Jamie Carroll and Dale Mahovsky in the lead-up to those wins, Patrik Forsbacka stunned the Vipers by also walking out.
While the Vipers were very understanding of Carroll and Mahovsky, who they felt had dealt honourably with requests to head to North America, the same thing cannot be said of Forsbacka.
However, the player-coach refused to let it overshadow the progress made on the ice since Christmas, the Vipers winning four of seven matches – a sequence which started with a defeat to put them bottom of the table.
The Canadian player-coach said: “If you had told me we would have got through the last month close to a 500 record (an equal number of wins and losses) with everything that happened off the ice, I would have taken it in a second.
“We had a little team meeting after practice this week and we are aware there will probably be even more ups and downs.
“There might be more nights like Nottingham (when the Vipers lost 11-4 on their own ice a fortnight ago) but the thing is how you bounce back, and we have done that well.”
Stewart’s response to the departures was signing Andy Finn, Matt Sellers, Daniel Pye and Callum Davies on two-way contracts from the Northern Stars.
With no Stars game, they will make their debuts in Glasgow tonight – second debuts in the case of Pye and Davies.
The Vipers hope to add two players to their seven imports before the January 31 deadline, but Stewart believes the departures can have a positive effect.
He added: “With the right type of guys it can bond you together.
“I have heard of teams in similar situations where it has become a revolving door and things have fallen apart.
“We have qualified for a Challenge Cup semi-final and put ourselves in play-off contention.”
:: WHITLEY Warriors are at Blackburn Hawks in the English National League North One tomorrow.