Talks to Peter Collins Autumn 99
"Well, it's been a long time coming but we've finally got there and it feels great. We've worked very hard for it, now we want to take the next step and actually win the thing" So said Mike Morin after the club secured it's first ever cup final spot after beating Cardiff Devils 4-0 on aggregate last weekend to book a place in this season's B&H Cup final in Sheffield on 4 December.
"I know the fans and the media have been putting pressure on us for the last couple of years but we've not been putting any on ourselves, there's enough as it is, you guys make sure of that. There are some great teams in this league but up to now we've won more than we've lost and we definately want to win the cup. Most of the guys know how important it is to the fans and the new guys are finding out pretty quick too. I've been getting sick and tired of watching the B&H final on TV and not being involved in it, now I'll finally be playing in one and it'm really excited, it's a huge accomplishment for this club. That 0-0 draw in Cardiff last Saturday was probably the most intense game I've ever played in. It was a real battle and although there were no goals I don't think anyone could say it wasn't entertaining, I mean it's not every team that can shut-out Cardiff on consecutive nights, but you can't take anything away from them, they gave it everything they had and they were very gracious in defeat."
Mike was brought in by former coach John Lawless in September1996, making his debut, appropriately enough, in the B&H quarter-finals against Ayr, playing on the same line as Craig Woodcroft and Chad Penney. Despite a poor season for the team Mike finished third top scorer. The previous campaign he'd played 25 games for the AHL's Providence Bruins and 41 games for the Richmond Renegades in the ECHL, having graduated from Lake Superior State University where he'd won a couple of college championships. Having won the SuperLeague title with Storm last season the tireless left winger finds himself not only in the hunt for further honours but also learning a new skill. "This season is my first playing defence and I have to give the majority of the credit to the guys around me," he explained . "They tell me where I'm going wrong and where I should be but I must be doing something right because they have confidence in me. I'm also discovering muscles I never thought I had with all this skating backwards! I'm really enjoying it, it's a completely different game to what I've used to playing and I'll never criticise defencemen again."
He reckons beating Cardiff has helped the team overcome it's recent dip in form and put it back back on the right track. "Things have already been really busy, what with Superleague, the B&H and of course the EHL and we had a bit of a wobble a couple of weeks ago, but every team goes through that and the real test of character is how you react to it and we've reacted positively. Tonight we play London and it seems crazy that we haven't faced them yet even though we've played almost 20 league and cup games. They are definately going to be one of the teams to beat, they're really starting to get going and they'll be right up there when the honours are shared out that's for sure. I don't really know any of them, although I've played against one or two before, but they have good reputations, they're tough but skilled and have a lot of experience and their coach isn't scared of making changes.
As far as the EHL is concerned we have to win the rest of our games, which isn't going to be easy, but we've played all the teams now and we feel we can beat them all, but to do that we have to play our absolute best each night." Now in his fourth season with the club the 28-year-old native of Melville, Sakatchewan has put down roots in the city with the love of his life Yvonne and her two children, Koren aged five and seven-year-old Gareth, and he would like nothing more than to be a part of the team for the foreseeable future. "I consider it an honour being the longest serving player and I'm really happy here in Manchester, it's my home now and I want to stay here as long as the club will have me. I've loved every minute of it, even the bad times, because it's a unique situation and I realise how lucky I've been coming here. I realise I'll have to work that much harder if I want to stay here but I'll do whatever it takes. Since I arrived things have changed on the ice, then I was expected to score goals now I'm expected to play a more defensive game, especially since dropping back to the blue line, but like I said I count myself lucky.
"In my time here I've seen the league, the teams and the players become much more professional and despite the wage cap I think things have improved all round. They'd improve even more if we could win the league again, the B&H and progress to the next round of the EHL, and I think we can do it."