Ards are facing an uphill task in European Indoor Trophy tournament
Survival will be the name of the game for Ards at the European Indoor Trophy tournament in Dundee at the weekend as the five-in-a-row Irish champions mix with some of the top teams on the continent.
Ards, as first reserve, were promoted to the second-tier event by default after the Danish champions pulled out.
Ards were relegated from the European Trophy after losing all six matches one year after winning all six in the lower tier.
They won the Irish Championship at a canter but will face a step up in class in Dundee where they will be up against teams who have a proper extended indoor season as opposed to a one-day event to prepare.
They will face English champions Bowdon Hightown and Dundee Wanderers along with Belgian side Royal Pingouin in the first phase of the tournament.
They then must win a classification game to stay up, assuming they don't finish in the top-two in their group which is extremely unlikely in the circumstances.
Ards captain Caroline Adams believes a longer indoor season here would make sense, especially in light of the six-week break from Irish Hockey League commitments which they had to endure in December and January.
"I would love to see Ulster move to a similar set-up to the one they have in Scotland, England and most of the continent with a winter break and an indoor league format," said Adams.
"It would solve the issue of a six-week long break and also any potential postponements with the winter weather."
Ards won't be in IHL action this weekend due to their indoor commitments but Pegasus host Cork Harlequins while Ulster Elks face student rivals UCD in what is a dress rehearsal for the Irish Senior Cup semi-final the following weekend.