Belfast Giants impress in opening exhibition victory over Mora IK
Belfast Giants 3-1 Mora IK
If their opening game of the season is anything to go by then this Belfast Giants line-up won't leave anything on the ice.
Possessing pace, grit and an offensive flair, the new-look Giants - with all 13 of their new signings on the ice - showed no shortage of promise on their first game experience of their 20th anniversary season.
Perhaps most pleasing was that they showed more chemistry as a roster than their opponents, Allsvenskan side Mora IK, who have been in pre-season camp for around a month longer than the Giants have been.
In defeating the Swedish outfit 3-1, Adam Keefe's men got their season off to the start that they needed, but not for the result.
The win was a bonus, but they matched a faster and more skilful team in every facet, something they needed to prove to themselves before their Champions League debut in just under two weeks' time.
There were hallmarks of an Adam Keefe team, for certain. They played with a relentless energy for the whole three periods and with just a hint of an edge as well.
The special teams, as they were last season in the treble-winning campaign, were phenomenal. The powerplay ran at a 1-for-4 clip, while the penalty kill was an exemplary 6-for-6.
Things were confirmed that head coach Keefe had already promised when players were signed, headlined by one of his most sought-after acquisitions, Ben Lake, who opened the scoring with that goal on the man advantage.
His strike was one of a natural scorer too, the former Coventry Blaze winger getting the puck in the right circle and sniping one past Mora netminder Isak Wallin before the Swede could even move at 7:04 of the first.
Patryk Wronka has the electric pace he possessed with Katowice in the Challenge Cup. Liam Reddox is a class apart, as his CV suggests. Matt Pelech will be the guy that other teams wish they had but hate to play against.
But we learned so much beyond that too.
Patrick Mullen has a bullet of a one-timer, as proven by his goal 6:31 into the second period, Bobby Farnham dropping the puck to him at the blue-line and the defenceman lasering one top shelf.
Even Kevin Raine has found a scoring touch over the summer too, it seems, the d-man in the right place at the right time to tap in Patryk Wronka's backhanded pass at the crease 1:25 into the third to round off the scoring.
And, most importantly, in Shane Owen they have a netminder who will make the big saves when called upon, the Canadian only beaten when Niki Petti found the top shelf from the high slot at 15:32 of the first.
But for the rest of the game he was unbeatable, blanking Oscar Eklind in a one-on-one breakaway in the second period and making two massive stops early in the third on the penalty kill.
It's early impressions but, for the overwhelming majority of the game, they were positive.
Belfast Telegraph Digital