For Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume, the season starts at Murrayfield Ice Rink this weekend as he leads his team into the inaugural Scottish Elite Cup.
Although billed as a pre-season tournament, Dutiaume believes the matches will be competitive with all four Scottish clubs out to claim the silveware.
The competition starts with the semi-finals on Saturday, where Fife take on Dundee Stars in a 2pm face-off, before hosts Edinburgh Capitals and Braehead Clan go head-to-head at 5.30pm.
The winners of each tie will then meet in a final on Sunday at 6.30pm, which will take place after a third-place consolation match at 3pm involving the two losing semi-finalists.
Dutiaume has set his players the challenge of bringing the trophy back to Kirkcaldy.
“We want to do well, and we want to win it,” he told the Press.
“It’s a great boost to the start of the season, and great for fans to come in and make their own conclusions regardless of outcomes.
“It’s good for the clubs to get together and size each other up. We’re looking forward to it.
“There’s a whole bunch of rivalries that pitted in this copmpetition and everyone wants to win it. Nobody wants to finish last.”
Flyers head into the tournament on the back of four pre-season fixtures which have yielded two Saturday wins, followed by two Sunday defeats.
Dutiaume believes the games against EC Kassel Huskies and Herlev Eagles have benefitted his players, but he admits that some are still making an adjustment to the UK game.
He said: “We played two really good skating clubs, and while I don’t know if we’re all at the conditioning that I want them to be at, I have to say, I think some of our players are in exceptional condition.
“Some are still adjusting to the big ice, and to multiple roles expected of them, but it will come. You get to learn a lot about your team in these games, and certainly this group looks like it will be fun to work with.
“They’re young so they’ll respond well to direction, and it’s clear they are going to work hard all the time.
“We need our offence to 100 per cent waken up, but missing Stocks, and a D-man at the back, that will aid in it, and I think that we learned a little bit about ourselves.
“We’ve moved in a direction we’ve wanted to go for years. We have the guys doing a lot more off-ice, and we’re monitoring that.
“We’re on the ice every afternoon or evening, and I’m hoping that having a pre-season like this is going to pay dividends in the long run.
“We should hit the ground running as the team we want to be for the season.”
Over the four exhibition games, Flyers forwards have struggled to convert their chances at times, but Dutiaume is convinced that the goals will start to flow.
“It’s going to come,” he said. “I’d be worried if we didn’t have grade A chances – but we did. It’s just finishing, and shaking rust off from the summer.
“Guys marvelled at the size of the ice when they first came in, then toiled with it for the first week or two.
“When you’re used to playing on a rink the size of Manchester, then you come to this ice, it’s always an advantage for us becaause there’s a lot more space.
“But sometimes having more time and space isn’t an advantage to a player when they’re used to moving and reacting without thinking.
“When you have four or five seconds on the puck you maybe do something that doesn’t come naturally to you. That’s an adjustment for these guys.”
With Shayne Stockton recovering from a shoulder injury picked up against Huskies, and the team still short of an import defenceman, Flyers look set to head into the Scottish Elite Cup two imports down.
“We’re not the only ones looking for a D-man, so it makes it ultra-competitive,” Dutiaume said. “Maybe in the past, at this point, if you were looking for one, you’d have got five or six guys looking for jobs.
“That’s not the case. Players seem to have a bit more of a stronger position, but that can change at any point, and there’s not a day passes when we’re not looking for one.”