Zack Fitzgerald may have worked wonders at Glasgow Clan in his first season as head coach but he admits that sitting on the sidelines has not been the easiest thing to adapt to.

The American had been a professional ice hockey player for 14 years but hung up his stick at the end of last season to become head coach of the Glasgow side. His coaching skills have paid immediate dividends, with the Clan on a tremendous run of form having won six consecutive games and are sitting top of the EIHL.

And while the players have made the transition for Fitzgerald as easy as possible, he admits that playing no physical part in the game took quite a bit of getting used to.

“I’d have loved to have played forever but that can’t happen,” the 34-year-old said.

“The hardest part is sitting on the sidelines. Mentally it’s very wearing because you can’t do anything about it and the first couple of weeks especially, it was very hard but it’s getting easier. I trust these guys and know they’re going to battle to the very end so that’s made not playing much easier.

“And it’s very hard being on the sidelines when there’s fights happening but I know these guys are more than capable of handling themselves so I’m not too worried about that.”

Fitzgerald was a player/coach at the then Braehead Clan during the 2014/15 season before heading down south to turn out for Sheffield Steelers. However, the Minnesota native returned to Glasgow as a player last season. Becoming head coach persuaded him it was time to retire for the game for good and he admits that the form his team have found under his tutelage has been a pleasure to watch.

“The guys are in great form and I think more than anything, it’s a matter of believing in each other and trusting each other,” he said.

“We’re committed to what we’re doing and we’re working hard towards it. At the beginning of the year, we saw some hiccups that really shook us but we worked very hard on those mistakes to sort them and so now we’re at a point where we’ve improved a lot on those areas and we continue to improve on them.

"Since the very start, they’ve played hard the entire game regardless of the score – we’ve got complete buy-in by every player. We’ve found a way to find games and stay committed to the system.”

The profile of ice hockey in Fitzgerald’s homeland of America is in a different league to it’s profile in the UK and while the Clan players are quite a way off being mobbed in the street, Fitzgerald admits he is getting recognised more and more, with the team’s excellent form doing him no harm in the celebrity stakes.

“Sometimes I get recognised," he laughed.

"I’ll get tweets here and there from people saying they saw me walking around. That’s great – I want people to say hi, I enjoy that,”

“That’s one of the big differences between hockey players and some other sports – we’re pretty approachable and we’re happy to have a chat with anyone. People are spending their hard-earned money to watch us play and I think that’s something most hockey players appreciate.

"Walking around the Braehead area, there’s definitely people who recognise you and you see lots of purple jerseys and that’s so great to see.”

Fitzgerald is quick to point out that he and his team battle daily against complacency setting in but while they do not expect to win every match, the American stresses that both he and his players know they have the ability to beat every team they come up against.

“I absolutely feel like we can be challenging for the title – there’s no reason why we can’t,” he said.

“We’ve set a good standard for ourselves and we’ll expect that every game now. We’ve shown that we can compete with every team in the league and so there’s no reason why we can’t be contenders for all three of the trophies.”