After spending eight years in Cardiff Steelers head coach Gerad Adams returns to Wales with his new side on Sunday to open the clubs Elite League campaign.
The Steelers were supposed to open at home on Saturday against Dundee in a special banner raising night celebrating last seasons play off championship. A broken ice plant at the Motorpoint Arena saw an end to that with the game being postponed.
Adams and the Steelers will be met by a roaring Devils side under new ownership, with a new head coach Andrew Lord and a team described as the most physical in the Elite league. After just two exhibition games and with practise time cut short by the issues at the arena with lack of available ice, Adams side will be up against it as he tries to integrate eight new imports and the returning Rod Sarich into his side.
Adams will receive a standing ovation off the Devils fans, for services rendered, before the puck drops but for the next 60 minutes his team can expect a stampede that they firstly have to stand up to and then overturn with their superior skill set.
Game 1 will be a huge test and offence will be expected right from the get go from the new import line up led by recent arrival Colton Fretter. The 32 year old Canadian only arrived in Sheffield on Tuesday but his pedigree and resume will have all Steelers fans hoping he can hit the ice running on Sunday.
On paper the Steelers offensive unit has been well upgraded over the summer months with the arrival of Fretter, Forney, Roy, Morency added to British scorer Robert Dowd. The new arrivals will have played in heated environments before so in theory Cardiff shouldn’t be anything they haven’t already encountered. The Devils however will have other ideas playing on the smallest ice pad in the league where physical contact can’t be avoided and in the Devils case is encouraged.
Maybe the key to this opener though will be how the new look Steelers defensive unit stands up the Cardiff physicality. New blue liners Darrell Hay and Cullen Eddy will be key in this encounter, especially Hay. Devils will take penalties on Sunday, the emotion of the opening home game with so many new players of their own eager to impress will mean penalties are inevitable.
For the Steelers to be victorious their powerplay has to click and that means a busy night for Hay, a player singled out by Gerad Adams as a man for the powerplay.
On Wednesday the Steelers confirmed the suspension of Tyler Mosienko by the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) for the events leading up to his departure from Danish club Esbjerg last season. Mosienko will miss the first five games of the season.
The Steelers are right to stand 100% behind Mosienko, they knew and understood his past prior to signing him. They gave him a second chance in the summer and that will reap a return once Mosienko host the ice in three weeks time.
Mosienko’s place will be filled on an interim basis by former Cardiff Devils’ rabble-rouser Devin DiDiomete - who claims to have matured since a high-octane penalty-strewn season with the team he now faces on Sunday.