By Kris Smith
The Stars and the Flyers will renew their rivalry over two preseason friendlies, starting tonight in Kirkcaldy with the pair meeting again on Sunday in Dundee.
Both squads have a fresh look and new approach coming into the season as Marc LeFebvre replaced the out-going Jeff Mason behind the Dundee bench and Tom Coolen steps into the shoes of long-serving Flyers coach, Todd Dutiaume.
The Stars have a returning core of just five players, as LeFebvre has scoured the globe to try and find some new, fast and talented forwards to add to the Dundee offence, as well as a lot of height and toughness on the blueline.
Meanwhile on the other side of the River Tay, the Flyers have kept six players from last year’s squad but added a few Europeans to a mainly North American squad.
One player has also crossed the divide this summer as Swedish forward, Johan Eriksson signed with Fife after spending the most-part of last season with Dundee.
Across 13 games last campaign, the Stars would be the victors on eight occasions, with one draw and four losses, but Dundee would also take a clean sweep of the three friendly fixtures between the two.
Speaking ahead of his team’s debut performance, Stars Director of Hockey Operations and Head Coach, Marc LeFebvre discussed what he wants to see from his side this weekend.
He said: “Well I want to see our compete level more than anything and making sure that we are competing in every period and on every shift, battling for loose pucks, protecting each other and protecting the slot.
“All of the systems we have implemented this week, I want to see them being executed and in game-form and then we will make adjustments as we go.”
Talking about the fast-pace and high tempo training performances his players have put in this week, LeFebvre added: “They all came in great shape and I know every coach says that but obviously this group are a well-seasoned and very professional group.
“So, when those doors open on the ice, they are pros about things which is good to see.”
A trip to Fife Ice Arena is not always the easiest of away days due to its unique nature and loud atmosphere, however the Canadian coach has put the trust in his British and experienced Elite League players to help navigate the new additions through what will be a common battle ground for the Stars.
Marc said: “I think our Brits and guys who have played in this league before will give them a heads up about the trips to Kirkcaldy but obviously they are a big rival for us and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
33-year-old, Josh Brittain already has a full season in the Elite League under his belt, as well as over 19 years of experience in the game and he gave his take on starting the preseason fixtures with a Tayside Derby.
Brittain said: “It is a good way to start for us, it is short travel and we have had a good week of practice here, so we are ready to go and we cannot wait to get out there.”
Despite Fife Ice Arena being a difficult venue to win in, the former Cardiff Devils says there will be no excuses.
Josh continued: “You never want to use that as an excuse because that is a rink that we are going to be playing in quite a few times this season, so we just have to be ready for the challenge and the guys know what to expect.”
Finally he shared his thoughts on how he thought he and the rest of the team had progressed through the first week of LeFebvre’s training camp.
He said: “Marc has been great; he has been holding us accountable and paying attention to a lot of our details.
“Basically he just wants us to go in there and establish our identity as a team, right away, it is the first game of the year and we have to let them know who we are and show to ourselves the type of team we want to be this season.
“We have to be ready from the first drop the puck, we have to be ready to go and ready to pounce on every opportunity and make the most of it.”
Face-off for tonight’s game in Kirkcaldy is at 7:15pm and Sunday’s match in Dundee will begin at 5pm.