IN the end there can be only one. After more than 50 matches, the race for the solitary remaining play-off spot in the Elite Ice Hockey League has come down to the three Scottish franchises. Glasgow Clan are the team currently in possession of that postseason golden ticket which in itself is a remarkable achievement. This has been a turbulent campaign like no other for the team that plays out of Braehead Arena, a series of traumatic behind-the-scenes events compounded by losing streaks that felt like they could endure forever.

Amid all the uncertainty that followed head coach Malcolm Cameron’s departure and the club being put up for sale, a young and unproven coaching team was assembled to try to resurrect something from an otherwise season to forget. They may yet do so.

That had looked highly unlikely after Clan lost all of their first 10 games but somehow morale has been patched up and spirits lifted. They play the first half of their remaining four regular season fixtures this weekend - Guildford Flames away on Saturday before a huge derby with Fife Flyers on Sunday – and if they can scramble over the line to finish in eighth it will be greeted as enthusiastically as if they had just won the title itself.

“We’ve tried to keep the belief in the room the whole time that we could make the playoffs,” says Dyson Stevenson, Clan forward and one of the team’s associate coaches. “The whole time we’ve been looking at the eighth spot just to get in as we were so far back at times that it was just about making it however we could.

“There’s been a lot of stuff going on this year and a lot of changes, a bunch of different things. So for the guys it would just be great to get in. And after that it doesn’t really matter what we do. The fan support throughout the season has been amazing too, even during the tough times, so it would be great for them too if we could make it.”

Being asked, alongside Stephen Dixon and Shawn Boutin, to take charge of a team on its uppers and struggling for any sort of form must have felt like being asked to take over the tiller on the Titanic. Stevenson admits it hasn’t always been easy but the new coaching group have tried to inject some levity into the deadly serious business of professional sport.

“When we got the opportunity to step in, the first thing we talked about was trying to change the mindset and the mood in the room,” adds the 29-year-old Canadian. “When you’ve been part of a team that’s lost so many games at the start, at the back of your mind all you can think of is how long a season it’s going to be if this keeps up. We did a decent job of changing that mindset, made it fun to come to the rink, and we started to win some games.

“We’ve had quite a few long losing streaks throughout the season but for the most part we just tried to keep everyone on board, try to have more fun and keep reminding everyone that we weren’t out of the playoff race. We made practice more enjoyable and tried to build in more days off for the guys to get away from the rink and take their minds off it at times. When we were at training we kept it positive while still working hard. And that’s made a difference.”

Often overlooked is the fact that many of those turning out for teams like the Clan are young American and Canadian exports, away for months from their families and homes. Some off-ice bounding has helped to make that experience less lonely.

“We get to do a lot of stuff together,” adds Stevenson. “We just went to a few Country to Country music shows and we get good deals on golf courses and play when we can. And then towards the end of the season a lot of the guys’ families come in and you get to show them a different part of the world. It can be tough being on the road for the six to eight months of the season. Most of us have experienced it playing in Canada or the United States but it’s a bit further away in Europe. So it’s awesome to have visitors. Last year my parents came over and we had a lot of fun.”

Stevenson is guaranteed a happy ending to this season whether Clan reach the play-offs or not, with his wedding to girlfriend, Taylor, slated for July.

“Once the season gets wrapped up here we’ll start to do more work on that,” he adds. “Well, I’ve not been doing too much work but I like to tell people I’m involved! We’re getting married in my own hometown in Saskatchewan and she’s from just an hour away so it’s basically pretty much home for both of us. So that’s something to look forward to when the hockey season is over.”