The period of uncertainty - ended when Sheffield Steelers’ owner Tony Smith eventually bought the club - meant that when Jason Hewitt’s team stepped out on to the ice at Dumfries Ice Bowl for last weekend’s pre-season game at league newcomers Solway Sharks it was all the more special.
That feeling would have been greater when the two teams met again the following day at Ice Sheffield, the Steeldogs home, in front of their own fans, albeit sporting new colours which made clear its allegiance to their Elite League neighbours.
A split weekend - the Steeldogs winning 4-1 in Scotland before losing out 4-2 on home ice - provided Hewitt with plenty to mull over, the player-coach behind the bench due to a suspension carried over from last season.
They rebounded on Thursday night to see off fierce rivals Hull Seahawks 4-1 on home ice and will travel to east Yorkshire for a rematch on Sunday.
“It was good to get back at it last weekend but, to be honest, I think that every day we’ve been at the rink since we got the green light, there has been an excitement to be back out there among the group.
“Apart from Sunday, where we weren’t quite ourselves, it has all been positive - it has been good to see the guys back out there enjoying themselves and competing again.”
While the Steeldogs get to recover from their exertions against Hull, parent club complete their pre-season preparations with a weekend double-header against Cardiff Devils.
The Steelers play host at the Utilita Arena tonight (7pm) before heading to South Wales tomorrow.
Leeds Knights, who won 5-1 at home to Solway last night, will face-off against the same opponents tonight in Dumfries.
First-period goals from Kieran Brown and Mac Howlett put the hosts ahead before John Dunbar halved the deficit in the second.
But the Knights held firm, Josh Adkins tapping home from close range at 41.36 before Brown and Howlett added another apiece.