The summer stoor was blown off the rink, and it was a near seamless return for Fife Flyers as they opened with a 4-2 win over Aalborg Pirates.
The rink buzzed with the noise of a big crowd, the returning imports all picked up where they left off last season, and the new guys fitted in well.
As opening nights go, this was the sort coaching teams like the most!
Pirates gave Flyers what they wanted - a good work-out which saw them push right to the wire for a share of the spoils with coach Paul Thomson pulling his keeper to try to force a game-tying goal. It may have been an exhibition game but the habit of playing to win is never fully forgotten.
For Flyers’ fans it was a chance to welcome new imports Chris Auger, Scott Fleming and Jamie Milam and see how they fitted in.
Auger iced with Matt Reber and Ned Lukacevic, while Fleming was teamed with Jordan Fulton, who wore the ‘C’ badge for the opening night, and Bobby Chaumont.
There was a new defensive partnership of Matt Nickerson and Tommy Muir which bristled with facial hair - both sporting fearsome beards, sparking coach Todd Dutiaume to joke ‘‘We’re going to change Tommy’s number to #25 which is half of Nicker’s #50 ... a mini-Matt!’’
He also paid tribute to Muir, pointing out ‘‘He has worked all summer, and never stopped, and come in and did a great job tonight against a team which was new to him.’’
Milam was paired with the unflappable Kyle Haines, and Kyle Horne and Euan Forsyth teaming up.
‘‘The fact we had so many guys returning meant we didn’t have to spend time explaining systems - they all knew them,. and the new guys are smart players who have fitted in very well and picked them up after a few training sessions,’’ said Dutiaume.
Fulton had the honour of scoring the first goal of the new season at 6.52 but the scoring honours went to Reber who netted twice after Christian Nordentoft had levelled for Aalborg on the half hour mark.
Reber was only denied a hat-trick as netminder Ervins Mostocovs pulled off a fine save after the forward had been left all alone front of goal.
Tommy Grant cut the lead back to 3-2 in the third which allowed Thomson to pull his netminder for a six on five finish, which say Bobby Chaumont hit the empty net from deep within his own zone as the clock wound down.
A good win, and, more importantly, a solid workout against a good Danish outfit.
Dutiaume revealed he tapped into the knowledge of ex-team-mate and friend, Dan Ceman, now coaching in Denmark, for the inside info on Aalborg.
‘‘We knew they’d played four games, and we knew they were a good young team who came here and played with a lot of pace, and it got a bit competitive out there which is good.’’
>> Flyers and Aalborg meet at Fife Ice Arena on Sunday with a 6.00 p.m. face-off. in the second leg of their exhibition double header.