Stingrays' Lovdahl determined to bow out on play-off high
DEFENCEMAN Shane Lovdahl says his imminent retirement has heightened his determination to reach the play-offs with Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays.
Unless he has a change of heart, the 28-year-old American intends to hang up his professional skates to complete his Business Marketing degree at university.
And he is determined to bring down the curtain on his only season in Stingrays' colours in style, starting tonight against Cardiff.
"It definitely gives me an added incentive to do well," said Lovdahl.
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"For instance, last weekend wasn't a bad one for the club as we kept Nottingham to 3-1 and we beat Dundee.
"But I was frustrated as I didn't play that well. I lost some battles and it made me mad personally because I don't want it to end like this.
"But I'm hard on myself. People will say 'good game' but I called my dad and he said 'you had a rough one'.
"He'll tell me straight up as he watches it online."
And Lovdahl admits if the Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays don't make the cut he will leave Hull a disappointed man.
"I didn't make the play-offs last year either, but the year before I did and it was fun. We almost caused a big upset," he said. "The play-offs are like a whole new season in a couple of weeks, everyone starts again.
"Even if you're the eighth-placed team you can make something happen. Last year Stingrays caused an upset by beating Sheffield.
"I still hear about it now and I'm sure people will be talking about it in a couple of years."
Lovdahl and Stingrays have just four games left of the regular league season and are currently outside the Elite League top eight by one point.
They need to bridge the gap, starting against Cardiff tonight and in Dundee tomorrow. Then Sheffield and Coventry await in the last two league clashes of the season.
"It's our biggest weekend," said Lovdahl.
"We keep saying it but because we've put ourselves so far back it's like every weekend is our biggest weekend.
"We can't think we've played Cardiff five times and only lost once, otherwise they will beat us. We have to win in Dundee somehow.
"We need to find a way to finally get points off Sheffield. If we need points in our final game against Coventry that will be a huge battle.
"If everyone shows up in the next four games it's doable."
If the task proves undoable, then Lovdahl – who would surely have been offered a new deal at Stingrays – will head home.
His university studies beckon and a potential pre-season try-out with his home city team in Alaska.
"I'd like to put on the jersey so my family can see me play one last time," reflected Lovdahl.
Marriage to Bobbi-Sue looms on the horizon and, hopefully, children too but ice hockey will also tug on his heart strings.
He said: "It's a pretty tough decision, but I said last year that I'd be retiring unless I moved to Europe. It would be tough to have a family and keep moving them every year.
"Sylvain Cloutier has a family but he played in the NHL and AHL and made enough to get a good core of savings. I've only made enough money for myself so it's different.
"If I could do what he's done I'd play until I'm 38, but I didn't play enough at a higher level to make enough, but I commend him for that.
"I've been with Bobbi-Sue for a while and now it's time to step up and get a 'real' job."