Fife Flyers are beginning the countdown to the new ice hockey season.
The club’s new imports are expected to hit town in less than ten days time, and begin their preparations for the 2015-16 EIHL season.
Flyers have spent a summer building a completely new look team with no fewer than ten new import signings - the most recent being Paddy Cullen who was announced this week.
The 26-year-old Irish passport holding forward has joined from North American outfit, Rapid City Rush.
Cullen’s career has included several seasons in Europe, including spells in German ice hockey.
A former team-mate of recent signing Michael Dorr, he should be arriving in town in around ten days along with the bulk of his new team-mates.
And that gives Flyers a good fortnight to get everyone settled and start preparing for their exhibition game against Belfast Giants on August 29 ahead of the league opener at home to Coventry Blaze on September 5.
With the ice going down this weekend, the clock has started to tick - and head coach Todd Dutiaume is looking forward to re-opening the locker room and working with a very new-look team.
‘‘I’m very pleased with how things have gone over summer,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s been a busy old time with a lot of recruiting.
‘‘I’m really looking forward to seeing how the chemistry develops.’’
Dutiaume and Danny Stewart, associate coach, have cross-checked numerous references for each signing, and are confident they have the right type of players on board.
‘‘It’s important as a squad we get everyone working together on and off the ice,’’ he said.
‘‘As we become more established in the EIHL we are starting to develop a network of alumni - guys who have played here and who we know can give players a heads up on the town and what is expected.
‘‘That feedback can be great for us as we check references, and I’m looking forward to getting everyone in quickly, getting them settled in their flats and then starting work.’’
Dutiaume hopes the guys will be arriving almost en masse rather than one at a time so all the off-ice preparations can be done quickly and the skates can be laced up for the first scrimmage sessions.
He still has an import defenceman to announce - but it won’t be a like for like replacement enforcer to fill the gap left by Matt Nickerson’s departure to Belfast Giants.
While a number of EIHL clubs have gone down that route, Fife have opted for strength and size across the bench.
‘‘It’s important the team stands up collectively’’ he said.
‘‘Everyone has a contribution to make, and for us it is important the guys stand shoulder to shoulder, and stick up for each other.
‘‘This is a group that won’t back down.’’
He added: ‘‘I know this seems to be a year of transition as teams have a tough guy, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works and how DOPs manage any incident - because you can guarantee there will be some!’’
Flyers’ new signings have all come with decent size - and at six feet and 194lbs, Cullen will certainly fit in. The club is looking to him to figure on its specialist teams as well as delivering good numbers.
Cullen spent four seasons with ECAC outfit RPI between 2008 and 2012 and had eight games with South Carolina Stingrays before moving to the German league with Klostersee EHC.
He then iced in the DEL2 with Ravensburg and Dresden Ice Lions before a return to north America in 2014 where he had 31 games with Indy Fuel and 38 with Rapid City.
Said Dutiaume: “He will start on our third line this season but we have no doubt that he will push our top six consistently and even find some time on those lines.”
Cullen is earmarked to start in the third line, but his arrival also offers the coaching staff more options for the season ahead.
‘‘We can change up all three lines this season, with even part of a fourth as well - so that gives us more scope,’’ said Dutiaume. ‘‘We’re not looking to rely on just one or two guys.’’
Off the ice, preparations are also on-going for the new ice hockey season.
The club has confirmed advance ticket sale details for the exhibition game against Belfast on August 29.
They are now on sale - both online and at the rink’s box office.
Season ticket holders will have their seats held for seven days.
When that deadline passes, the seats will be put on general sale if left unpurchased.
Tickets for the friendlies cost £14 for adults, £10 concessions and £7 for children aged 15 and under.