NEWCASTLE Vipers’ new era starts tonight without one of the men expected to be a key figure in it.
Edinburgh Capitals are at Hillheads Arena in Whitley Bay tonight for the first game of a weekend of back-to-back exhibition matches.
It will be the first chance for fans to see new player-coach Danny Stewart’s totally revamped squad, but red tape has delayed first-choice netminder Charlie Effinger’s debut.
The frustration for the Vipers was that they processed the relevant paperwork in good time and had expected Effinger to fly into Newcastle yesterday afternoon. But, having granted the 25-year-old American his travel visa, Effinger was still awaiting the return of his passport from the United States authorities.
“I’ve spoken to Charlie and he is as gutted as I am,” said Stewart. “He received word that his visa was granted and on the back of that we looked at his flight options.
“Charlie is packed and ready to leave at the drop of a hat. However, until his passport comes back he can’t go anywhere.
“We’re in constant touch with Charlie so that when he gets the passport we can get him on the first available flight over here.”
Liam McAllister will be the man between the pipes for Newcastle in tonight’s 7pm game.
The Vipers play their landlords the Whitley Warriors on Wednesday before opening their Elite League campaign with home-and-away games against Sheffield Steelers.
Since the disappointment of 2010-2011 the Vipers have changed their coach and playing staff. Only youngster Jamie Tinsley remains from last season’s roster.