Festive change looms as Sheffield Steelers plan their fixture list for 2019-20
Sheffield Steelers' annual ‘Christmas present’ to their fans will have a decidedly different look when it is unwrapped, this coming season.
Traditionally, Santa brings back-to-back clashes against Nottingham Panthers, on Boxing Day and December 27.
They are the biggest draw in British ice hockey.
But there is speculation that Steelers will be facing different opposition, this time around.
The club refused to comment on any changes, other than to say they will be playing at home on Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
They did confirm the domestic season starts on August 31, with a Challenge Cup home game. Their League programme begins a week later.
Operations manager Shaun Smith is happy with what appears to be a thriving relationship with their Arena landlord - something the club has not always enjoyed.
He said: "We have used pretty much all the dates the Arena gave us. Once again the Arena has made itself available to lots of weekend hockey.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
"Saturday nights will be our predominate day for home games again. We will have home ice on Boxing Day and January 1.
"As with games last season, as well as our season ticket games we will have a selection of special £5 all-ticket nights to attract even more fans through the door."
Meanwhile, Sheffield Steeldogs are preparing for their first campaign in the National Ice Hockey League, where their opponents will include Hull Pirates and Nottingham Lions, Sutton Sting and Brad Day's Telford Tigers.
Dogs, who were North Cup winners, National Cup finalists, league runners-up and play off semi-finalists, are aiming to stage some pre-season games on August 30 and 31 and September 14 and 15.
Ben Morgan's team will first hold trials (August 6, 8, 13 and 15) for aspiring players - the same events Steelers’ apprentice Alex Graham and England U20 prospect Curtis Warburton have taken part in over the last couple of seasons.
Coach Morgan told The Star: "Moving into the restructured league this coming season will give us even more motivation to continue to build on our most recent successes over the past two seasons.
"We are under no illusions as to how tough the new league will be but as players, fans and a club as a whole, it's something we all want and can't wait to get going with."