Head coach Adam Keefe says that the excitement is truly building as his new lineup and they just want to get back at it.
“Speaking to the players they are pretty sick of practicing and they are ready to get into the season this weekend,” said Keefe. “Playing against an opposition is what it is all about. We are keeping ourselves focused on the season ahead.
“There has been a lot of work done in building the team.
“We have been doing quite a bit of team building. Some of them arrived in Northern Ireland ahead of the training camp and have got to know each other. It is always good to let the players build those bonds themselves.
“We allowed them to skate together before the training camp which has allowed them to break the ice, so to speak.
“That has helped the cohesion of the team which is great to start the season with.
“Obviously the guys have come to work for a great organisation and live in a fantastic city but the also want to win the championship.”
Keefe agrees that it has been a long lay off and the focus now must be on the job at hand.
He reflects: “It has been different for everybody on this team. Some players have played through Covid last season either in Europe or over in the North American leagues, in the latter they were playing but with no fans in the arenas.
“And then some didn’t play at all. Personally, I didn’t coach at all last year and the organisation was unable to run because of Covid.
“So the experience has been very different for us all.
“For the players and the coaches who didn’t have a season last year, there may be a few things which will skip or minds, but those are the teething problems that all of the teams in the league will be facing. And we will work them through.”
But what is important to everyone is getting to play in front of fans again.
“When you get playing the competitive juices get flowing,” said Keefe. “When there are no fans to cheer you, sometimes it can wear on guys and it’s not as much fun. The fans are an always will be so important.”