Fife Flyers will renew their fierce rivalry with Braehead Clan when the Glasgow side visit Kirkcaldy for the first time this season on Saturday.
The relationship between the clubs was strained last term as a number of on and off-ice feuds helped turn the fixtures into box-office encounters that attracted sell-out crowds.
Clan coach Ryan Finnerty stated he had a “lack of respect” for the Flyers after a particularly heated encounter last season that saw Matt Nickerson banned for 12 matches for an altercation with Clan’s Chris Frank.
All eyes will be on those two again on Saturday, while Derek Roehl’s switch from Fife to Braehead during the summer is sure to add extra spice to the Challenge Cup encounter.
Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume believes the rivalry is good for the game.
“Things happened between us last year and we got to boiling point at times,” Dutiaume said.
“It’s great for the sport - we had some close games, the buildings were packed and there was always something at stake.
“They come with a great travelling support so it’s good for hockey in Scotland to have a rival like Braehead - it adds to the excitement.”
Dutiaume has warned his troops that they face a difficult match against a Clan side that has started the season in better form than Fife.
“Braehead is going to be a tough, tough test,” he stressed. “I’ve watched them play and their work-rate is second to none - they come at you all night long.
“They have a good mix going on right now, but we’re been playing well at home and I see no reason for that to change.”
The trend for Flyers so far this season has been to follow a good performance on Saturday with a poor one on Sunday.
The Kirkcaldy side can ill-afford such a scenario this weekend as they travel to EIHL champions Belfast Giants on Sunday in a game that counts towards both Challenge Cup and Elite League standings.
“The key to success this year will be consistency and it’s something the team is struggling with right now,” Dutiaume said. “It’s important that our guys find a way to play 120 minutes this weekend.”
Dutiaume confirmed that injured trio Matt Reber, Kyle Horne and Chris Wands are “unlikely” to feature this weekend.