By Kris Smith
The battle-hardened Canadian blueliner has won a playoff championship in his career but it was back in youth hockey and ever since then, he has been dreaming of another cup and now, Haas and his teammates are only two wins away from achieving their goal.
The Stars face Belfast Giants in the semi-finals of the Elite League Playoffs this weekend and all that stands in their way of clinching the club’s first ever EIHL Playoff trophy is two 60-minute games.
Discussing his past experience with the playoffs and winning trophies, Kyle said: “Throughout my career I have been chasing championships and that winning feeling.
“We can go all the way back to midget hockey and playing for my prep school, Edge Prep in Calgary, Alberta where we went undefeated the whole year and we ended up winning the playoffs.
“I will never forget that experience in my life and I have been trying to chase those memories ever since then.
“Then at junior level, we made the playoffs and got beat out in the first round when we were the favourites and then by my second year, I switched leagues to the QMJHL, where I played in Moncton for two years.
“In the first season, we were again favourites to go to the Memorial Cup Final that year but we were upset in the first round again, which was heart-breaking.
“That theme continued on to my final two years in junior, where we were favourites but again lost out in the first round.
“So, I have always made the playoffs but always gotten beat out in the early rounds.”
Haas continued: “Although, my one year at the University of Windsor, was when I made my furthest progression into the playoffs, but we were knocked out in the Western Conference Finals.
“However, it was hard because you were used to winning in the previous rounds of the cup and then you get your heart ripped out of your chest.
“That is something you do not want to revisit and you will do anything in the future to get past that stage and win.
“You will put your body on the line, you know what it will take to win and you are willing to do anything possible to not relive those grieving moments and to win that championship.”
Now the 28-year-old finds himself as an underdog heading into the Final Four Weekend and the Stars go up against the Elite League and Challenge Cup winners, Belfast.
Although Adam Keefe’s side were forced all the way into a penalty shootout by Coventry Blaze, before eventually emerging victorious.
“It is a bit of a role-reversal this year for me, but I think that plays into our favour, because at the start of the year we faced so much adversity”, said Haas.
The Calgary-born enforcer then added: “Almost every weekend we have been facing more and more adversity, as if we were not always playing a top dog team or having to deal with the long bus trips.
“Then it was facing all those injuries, especially before Christmas time, or it was the whole COVID situation that halted our progression after winning all those games building up to Christmas.
“We have been facing challenges and adversity all season long, but it has prepared us for these types of moments and you saw that on Sunday first hand.
“We were down 3-0 and then going into the third period, we saw the challenge ahead of us and we took it on and we achieved it and now we are going to the Final Four.
“Now the next challenge is ahead of us and we are ready to face it and win that cup.”
Finally, Kyle shared how this year’s squad are determined to prove their worth against the top teams.
He commented: “We will definitely take all this as an advantage, because I don’t think any other team has faced as much as adversity that we have been faced with and then you can throw in the fact that we are underdogs.
“It is even more motivation for us to beat out the top teams and show our worth in the league.”