After a summer of rebuilding, Aberdeen Lynx head coach Owen Reynolds thinks his team is coming together as focus begins to shift to Scottish National League action.
The Granite City side have mostly been on Stuart Robertson Cup duty so far this term, winning three of five matches to this point. They will meet Dundee Comets on Tayside on Sunday to round off the early-season tourney’s round robin stage.
With Sean Dyer, Craig Findlay, Ross McIntosh, Jack Flynn, Calum MacEachran and Mathieu Davidge all departing during the break, Reynolds has been trying to bed in their replacements.
He explained: “It was important we carefully strengthened to ensure plenty of depth with a focus on youth to bolster our existing core team – bringing in forwards Keir Anderson (Kilmarnock Thunder), JP Jack (Dundee U20), Alex Newman (Swindon Cougars) and Mark Simanovskiy (Vikingit Helsinki), defencemen Dan Fuller (Missouri State) and Neil Pritchard (Dundee Tigers), and net-minder Ciaran Hoggan (Dundee Comets).
“Our new faces are settling in well and it’s not been a bad start to the season with three wins from five in the Stuart Robertson Cup.
“Obviously there’s still plenty of room for improvement but with so many new additions, it’ll take a bit of time to develop chemistry within the team.
“All of the teams in the league have strengthened heavily over the summer, so we’re seeing a higher standard of hockey and much more competitive games, which is great for the sport in Scotland.”
Wins in the Stuart Robertson Cup – which is played out between the SNL’s northerly sides – have come home and away against Dundee Tigers, and at home to Kirkcaldy Kestrels.
Last weekend, the Lynx lost 6-1 to the latter side in Fife – they’ll look to make up for this against the Comets and also seal progression.
Reynolds added: “Ourselves, along with the Comets and Tigers, are all capable of qualifying for the next stage, which sees the top two teams in the North battle it out for a place in the final against the winner of the South division.
“There seems to be very little between the four teams in the North, which also includes Kirkcaldy Kestrels, so this weekend’s fixtures should be pretty interesting.
“We got off to a slow start against Comets in our season opener and, despite making a late comeback, it wasn’t quite enough to get a win.
“Since then we’ve recorded back-to-back victories against Dundee Tigers and a home win against Kirkcaldy Kestrels.
“We were caught on the back foot against the Kestrels in the away fixture and I don’t think our performance fully reflected the loss we suffered.
“After a comprehensive win at home I think we took the Kestrels, who are a high-calibre team, for granted.
“It’s something we can learn from and we’ll certainly be looking to bounce back strong against the Comets as we close out the round robin stage of the competition this weekend.”
In their only SNL game so far, the Lynx lost 8-1 away to Solway Sharks and with their next game in the league proper a trip to play the Tigers on October 20.
There is also a treat for fans on the horizon, with Elite League side Belfast Giants set to bring a team to the Linx Ice Arena on November 9 to play Aberdeen.