IF there’s an upside to seeing the Elite League season being suspended for this year, it’s that Glasgow Clan captain Matt Haywood can finally enjoy a birthday at home with his family.

For seven of the last 10 years, the forward has spent his special day on a bus or a ferry, travelling to the arena of an opponent to help the Clan try and claim two festive points as part of a busy schedule.

But as he gets ready for his 30th birthday on Sunday, Haywood is looking forward to some home comforts and time with his family instead of hitting the road and spending his day with fans in anticipation of a busy night on the ice.

“This year, I don’t have to worry about travelling, getting up early or worry about getting beat up during the games,” Haywood laughed. “Now I can look forward to a full night’s sleep, or at least as much as I can with two small children.

“It’ll be nice to be home this year and it’s my job, but it’s unfortunate for me that my birthday falls when it does so I’m required to travel and play. Maybe I’ll get a cup of tea made for me this year.

“I normally spend my birthday on the boat going across to Belfast to play the Giants and playing them there so I don’t normally see family as I’m gone by around 6am. I see plenty of fans right enough.

“I actually enjoy the festive period as it breaks the season up. Normally, you work and train all week then you have your games at the weekend. At this time of year, you have games every two or three days and can be a time when you find out how your season will go.

“The Christmas period is always hectic and in my first couple of years, I was more travel sick than I am now and I was convinced there were better ways to spend my birthday than being on a rocky boat, but I’m used to it now.”

Festive fixtures usually bring out the fans in their numbers and Clan traditionally found themselves up against Belfast Giants, playing them at least once in their two post-Christmas games, usually in double headers with both teams travelling.

But regardless, Haywood says ice hockey players will usually have to watch what they do on Christmas Day in terms of what they can eat and drinking and depending on whether there’s a game on Boxing Day, it can make a difference.

“The games (with Belfast) have been entertaining to watch for both sets of fans to enjoy and I know the Purple Army will miss it this year,” Haywood added. "They come in great numbers, whether it’s home or away and enjoy themselves. The atmosphere is always good and the fans get on pretty well.

“The games have usually been tight affairs, with the exception of one or two through the years, but it’s definitely a hard one for us as a team. We always know when we play Belfast that we have to turn up and play. If not, we’ll get beat pretty badly.

“For us, as players, you always need to be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking. Having the game the next day, you’ll maybe be more careful. If it’s only a morning skate the next day, you can afford yourself an extra slice of turkey or two.

“Too much can weigh you down, but as a player, it’s about looking after yourself, being sensible and taking less potatoes off your plate and save it for another day.”