Matt Nickerson, Belfast Giants 6ft 4ins tough guy, has thrown down the gauntlet to Cardiff Devils before their Elite League crunch clash in Northern Ireland.
Leaders Devils play second-placed Giants at the SSE Arena on Friday and again on Saturday in matches which will go a long way towards deciding the title issue.
The rivals also clash over the final weekend of the regular season in back-to-back matches at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay.
“In order it get to first place we have to go through Cardiff,” says Nickerson. “The four games against Devils are going to make or break our season.
“We need to win three or four of those fixtures.”
American defenceman Nickerson, a 6ft 4ins powerhouse, could well clash with Devils’ former NHL enforcer, 6ft 6ins Patrick Bordeleau in what is a huge match on Friday.
Both are capable of intimidating opposing players and each will aim to keep the other in check when it comes to hit and checks.
Belfast will be without suspended Adam Keefe, who can return in Saturday’s clash, and must play an import short.
Both teams have a new signing making their Elite League debut.
Devils’ new forward Denny Kearney flew in on Monday, has trained with his new team this week and is ready for action.
Defenceman Jerome Leduc has joined Giants for the rest of this season and he landed on Thursday.
Leduc is a 24-year-old from Quebec, Canada and was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL entry draft.
Following his draft year, 2011/12, Leduc led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) in both goals and points by a D-man and was voted Defenceman of the Year plus earning a place on the first All-Star Team.
Leduc spent the following four seasons in the AHL with Rochester Americans, the Buffalo Sabres affiliate, where he posted 19 goals and 38 assists in 228 games.
Leduc then signed a one year contract with Czech Extraligue club Dynamo Pardubice, posting four goals and five assists in 41 games, before signing a contract with Giants for the remaining 11 League games plus playoffs.
Giants have made it clear via their official website they are out for revenge on Friday, having been outplayed in a 5-1 defeat against Devils in the Challenge Cup semi-final.
They had been favourites after earning a one-goal win at Ice Arena Wales in the first leg, but were completely outplayed in the second game.
The Giants website says: “Revenge is a dish best served cold…or on ice! With this weekends double header, Giants have an almost immediate chance to avenge our cup defeat which saw the Welsh side advance to the final.”
Both teams will be fired up for two massive, and decisive, clashes as they each go for title glory.