Shane Lovdahl admits it has taken time to settle into life at Hull Stingrays
DEFENCEMAN Shane Lovdahl admits it has taken him time to settle in to life at Hull Stingrays.
The 28-year-old American was the last import to arrive in Britain due to visa problems.
It meant he missed pre-season and the first three games of the new campaign, and landed at Heathrow just hours before his debut in Hull against Edinburgh.
He says it's only now that he's finding his feet on the blueline.
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Lovdahl said: "The first weekend I came over I felt on a high as it was all new, and I felt I had a couple of good games.
"The second weekend it was as though jet-lag had hit me. I'm not used to playing on a team with four defencemen and playing so much.
"I'm more used to rolling six defencemen in three pairs.
"I didn't have any ice time in Iowa when I was at my girlfriends for three weeks, whereas in Alaska I'd been skating every day. I couldn't do anything while I was waiting for my visa, so that was kind of tough."
Lovdahl is desperate to find a consistent level of displays, irrespective of the quality of the opposition.
Asked how difficult he has found his transatlantic switch to Europe for the first time, he said: "It's more off the ice, the changes in routine and the new surroundings.
"On the ice it's North American style hockey, but back home sometimes you could fade out of games, while in others you are the best out there.
"But here we only have three lines and four defencemen so you have to be a top player every night, that's what they bring you over for."
Lovdahl finally feels at home and is striving for the consistency which has eluded the Rapid Solicitors Stingrays all season.
"I feel pretty good on the ice, my breathing is better," he said. "I feel better adapted now, but I am still learning the systems here, as every team is different."
That consistency needs to be found this weekend with trips to Nottingham and Dundee.
Lovdahl missed the 4-2 defeat earlier in the season, and expects the Panthers to be a tough proposition on their own ice. He knows all about Dundee, though, having lost 3-1 to the Stars only last Saturday.
"Sylvain Cloutier said we didn't work as hard as we should have against Dundee and they came out with the two points we needed.
"The next night we played hard, in a rough game against Belfast.
"I guess if we'd worked harder the first night we'd probably have got the points against Dundee. We have to play hard as a team, instead of trying to be fancy or do stuff individually."
While settling down on the ice, Lovdahl knows he has more adjusting to do in Hull.
While most people are getting wrapped up ready for winter, Lovdahl still sports flip-flops.
Six inches of snow brings Britain to a shivering halt without fail.
In Lovdahl's home town of Anchorage it's measured in feet.
Last winter the 11 feet broke a 60-year-old record, with snow removal crews moving a mind-boggling 2.5m cubic yards of it to six disposal depots.
"I don't wear socks," said Lovdahl, looking at his feet.
"I like the snow a lot, you guys don't have enough. I like to go out skiing and snowboarding. I grew up with it. We had an outdoor rink in the backyard, I always loved that and every school I went to had an outdoor rink.
"We normally have about 6ft. Last year Anchorage had a record amount, but I missed it as I was playing in Quad City."