Fife Flyers begin their preparations for the new Elite League season this weekend with back-to-back friendly fixtures against Herlev Eagles.
The Danish top-flight side visit Fife Ice Arena for the second time in three years, with the teams winning one game apiece back in September 2017.
The matches will be the first opportunity for Flyers fans to cast an eye over the new signings, although they will have to wait to see the full line-up in action with Dylan Quaile, Danick Gauthier and the Crowder brothers, Tim and Paul, yet to complete their season in Australia.
It is expected that the quartet will be back in time for the Challenge Cup opener against Glasgow Clan on September 7, if not sooner.
“It’s a bit of a headache but one we chose to take on and wait for these guys,” explained head coach Todd Dutiaume, who is embarking on his 15th season in charge, his 22nd at the club overall.
“A lot depends on when they finish with their teams and whether they can get over here as quickly as possible.
“It’s the post-season over there, and speaking to the guys they are all excited to get here and join the team.
“The positive out of it is that, although we don’t get to see two of our new guys, two of the guys know the systems having worked with us over the last couple of years, and they are all going to be in good shape. They are four guys worth waiting for.”
A short-benched start to pre-season presents the Brits with an opportunity, with new arrival Sam Jones, along with returnees Chad Smith, Jordan Buesa and Bari McKenzie all primed to play a full part this weekend.
“It gives us a chance to assess what kind of work the young guys have put in over the summer and allow them to fight for spots,” Dutiaume said.
“We’ve been working on this progression with a number of these guys now for a number of years and they’ll have plenty ice time to go out and show what they can do this weekend.
“Not just a couple of shifts a period, but a regular shift.
“It’s something people have been crying out for, and it’s a great opportunity for these kids to put their talent and hard work on display, and to compete for those key spots.”
Another local youngster, Scott Jamieson, an 18-year-old forward with Kirkcaldy Kestrels, may see some action during pre-season , with another double-header to follow next weekend against German side EV Landshut before the competitive action gets underway.
Dutiaume explained: “Scott is going to be in the dressing room with us, and we’ll get a good look at him in camp and see how he fits around being a regular player with us this season.
“We have a couple of juniors in mind we want to bring up over the next little while and start the training process with us. We really need to bring these kids through.”
While players were able to shake off the rust with some casual ice slots over the weekend, Flyers officially started their pre-season training camp on Tuesday, with the club’s jersey launch scheduled to take place at Fife Ice Arena last night (Wednesday).
“It always gets hectic at this point, when you have that many new faces all coming in at once,” Dutiaume said. “But now we’re focusing on the hockey side of things, and getting into the meat and potatoes of the start of the season.
“My initial impression is that we have a group that is excited and happy to be here, and are getting along great.
“We have three weeks of building up together towards the home opener which is just what we’d have ordered.”
Having only completed the roster at the weekend with the final acquisition of Swedish defenceman Jonas Emmerdahl, the Fife coach declared himself satisfied with his summer’s work.
“When you see the line-up written out, we look dangerous offensively on paper,” he said. “We’ve made upgrades on defence, and with Adam Morrison in net, speaking to him he’s very professional and takes pride in his work. We’ll get to know the guys over the coming weeks, but I’m quite pleased about it.”
Saturday’s match has a 7.15 p.m face-off, with Sunday scheduled for a 6.30 p.m start.