Cardiff Devils go into a gruelling spell of five matches in 11 days when they travel to play Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday.
Head coach Andrew Lord and his team play Challenge Cup, Elite League and Champions League fixtures in their quest to build on a solid start to the 2017-18 season.
Champions Devils opened their League season with back-to-back wins against Sheffield Steelers (4-3, away) and Nottingham Panthers (4-1, home) and goalie Ben Bowns says: “It doesn’t come much harder than playing Steelers and Panthers in your first two league games, but we came out with maximum points.
“That sends out a big message.”
Bowns looked in trouble when his stick snapped as Nottingham’s David Clarke broke clear, but the British netminder threw himself to made a huge save.
“It was a shock when my stick blew up on me,” said Bowns. “It broke pretty hard and I nearly fell over it.
“I went into panic mode as I tried to get back and the D guys did a good job f scrambling the first chance clear. My thought was to make sure I shut the five-hole, but Clarkey read that and went round me.
“I chucked everything at the puck and thankfully managed to keep it out.”
Devils follow Saturday’s Challenge Cup trip to Milton Keynes with a home League fixture against Manchester Storm on Sunday.
They follow that with matches against Dundee Stars (away, Wednesday, September 27), Braehead Clan (home, Saturday, September 30) and Swedish club Vaxjo (home, Tuesday, October 3).
Lord has an extra import on his roster and he will need that flexibility over the next five games. Big defenceman Drew Paris is fit after sitting out the wins against Sheffield and Nottingham with a minor niggle.
Devils travel to Milton Keynes for the first time in the Elite League era, having beaten Lightning 5-2 at home, while they are back at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay to face the Manchester Storm on Sunday.
New-look Storm are out to make waves in Elite League this season with new ownership and a new coach in former Cardiff captain Ryan Finnerty.
Three impact players followed Finnerty from Glasgow’s Braehead Clan to Manchester and they are Jay Rosehill, Mike Hammond and Matt Beca.
Rosehill is Storm captain, while Hammond and Beca are first and second in overall league scoring.
Ticket information for Sunday’s clash with the Manchester Storm ONLINE HERE or by calling 0800 0842 666 or in person at Ice Arena Wales reception right up until game time on Sunday (6pm).
Elite League have announced dates for the Challenge Cup final and play-off finals weekend 2018.
Ice Arena Wales will host the cup final in Cardiff Bay on Sunday, March 4. It will be the second year this final is to be played in Wales. Devils emerged winners last season, beating Sheffield 3-2 in right final.
The play-off finals weekend are at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8.
Sheffield won the competition last season in a classic final against Cardiff Devils, winning 6-5 after a second period of overtime, in a game that lasted four hours.