Whitley Warriors begin their Northern League programme with an away game against defending champions Fife Flyers this evening - after travelling north without four key players.
New skipper Simon Leach, brothers Daniel and Mark Good and defender Rob Wilson were all missing because of other commitments when the team bus pulled out of Hillheads at lunchtime.
However, all four will be playing when the Warriors entertain Sheffield Scimitars in the English National League at Hillheads tomorrow evening.
Despite those absentees, Whitley will still have six summer signings on show tonight, including Karl Culley.
And the player who picked up an Elite League play-off championship medal with Newcastle last April is looking forward to being back in a Warriors shirt.
"I'm looking forward to being back at Hillheads and can't wait for tomorrow's game," he said.
"But we have a very tough night ahead of us before then because Fife is always a difficult place to go, even with a full side.
"But even without the players that can't make the trip we still have a good side and defensively look very strong this season, so even if we have to play ugly, we can go there looking to get a result."
Whitley already have six periods of ice hockey under their belts after playing in the Dumfries Tournament last weekend, and Culley believes that will be very useful going into the opening round of league fixtures.
"We didn't do as well as we hoped," he said. "But it was still a useful exercise and we got an opportunity to try out the new rules if nothing else.
"But we are still learning to play together and another weekend of games will help the side gel."
Coach Gary Wood will top up his side this evening with some of the best young talent at Hillheads, and has added Sam Zajac, Andrew Wood and Daniel Harris, who makes his Warriors debut, to the squad for the Fife game.
Meanwhile, the club have announced that sponsorship deals with several local firms will continue for a second season and are delighted that Ferguson Honda (Blyth), Bernard Head Windows and Wright Bros Coaches will be backing the Warriors again this season.