It’s been a busy return to the Premier Sports Elite League for Dundee Stars defenseman Kris Inglis.
After a year without ice hockey, Dundee’s junior product not only went straight back to a pro season, but logged almost 22 minutes per game in the first three weeks, compared to an average of around 13 minutes in 2019/20.
“It was of course difficult to get straight back in, also because the ice age in Dundee was quite limited. When we thought there might be a chance at a league, we managed to get back on the ice in December, but after that was pushed back we couldn’t get any more ice, ”the 23-year-old began. “But in Dundee I’ve had a lot of Ice Age this season, thrown it in the depths and I think that was the best way to come back. I definitely found my feet again!
“I think in the past few years (Head Coach Omar) Pacha has shown me more confidence and more minutes and I think I have earned more and more by continuing to perform. I’m logging a lot more minutes this year than before, so I have to keep working hard and helping the team make sure they keep trusting me. “
When asked whether he had noticed other things in more minutes, Inglis thinks it is good not to think too much. “To be honest, when you play so many minutes, you don’t have much time to think about it, and I like that! I can just work hard and do my job, ”he said. “In previous seasons, when I didn’t play that much, you sit on the bench and think about the postponement beforehand – while now you can only go full throttle and come out again. It is of course important to remember the simple things and play simple games when tiredness creeps in. “
Inglis’ season-to-season increase in the ice age has been closely watched by Head Coach Pacha. “Omar told me that I gained his trust in Dundee and that my Ice Age was getting higher and higher. He’s now given me a role on special teams where I play on penalties and he wants me to keep improving, ”said the defenders. “I’m just young at 23 so I have no limits and if I keep doing what I’ve done Omar believes I’ll have a good career in this league.”
While Inglis is a big part of the Stars’ defensive core, he’s had to wait for his chance – something he knows other players are going through as well. “I started playing for the stars five years ago and I love the club after watching it as a little boy – so it was a great experience to be called up and just do it on the bench and in the line-up sit. But when you get older and you find yourself improving, you want to play more and it can be a little frustrating to think that you are not getting out that much, ”he added. “You have to give your trainer a reason to get you out – make sure you work hard every day in training, do your workouts in the gym, keep your head down and the chance comes.
“I thought for a while that I would always be seventh defender and not play, but I earned my place through hard work and now I have to repay the coach and the team.”
Dundee has been supported by large crowds at the Dundee Ice Arena this season despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland. “It was brilliant, no question about it. I think the fans in Dundee are second to none, especially for me as I grew up here and saw the stars as a kid. I’ve seen how much it has grown from watching to playing and the support we are getting is incredible, ”Inglis confirms. “Especially when you log many minutes and go into the last ten minutes of the third period, the audience really pushes you to go ahead and get the result. I love being with the spectators again and for me that’s what hockey is about. “
After all, a lot has been done about star recruitment over the summer and the style of the team that plays that something. It’s something Inglis thinks they’ve missed before.
“I think we have lacked a bit of toughness in the past few years, we were maybe a little soft in our own zone and Omar raised this problem,” said Inglis, who is in his fifth season with the team. “We play so our strikers can play, play strong and hard in our defensive zone and make it difficult for any team to get into our field. We want to get on other teams early, take the game away from them. I think we have some really talented strikers on our team, a good balance in the squad and a younger line-up overall. “
Photo: Derek Black