The Sheffield Steelers’ British contingent arrived back in the UK on Monday after three of the toughest games imaginable in Latvia.
GB were heavily outranked by the hosts, Kazakhstan and France, and lost all three games.
Three days later and Messrs Tait, Phillips, Hewitt, Sarich, Meyers and Thomas return to the ice tonight (Thursday) for the first of three games in four nights.
It’s a crucial period for Ryan Finnerty’s side: after beating Nottingham in their last game they opened the door for a chase at the Championship, but that door only remains open if the Steelers can win in Cardiff on Thursday and then beat both Fife (Saturday) and Hull (Sunday) at the Arena.
Cardiff is a rink that the Steelers have already dropped four points at. The simple fact is that they can’t afford to drop another one there.
The Steelers style of play, though, has changed in recent weeks.
The arrivals of Chris Frank and Simon Ferguson have changed the dynamics of the team - they’re now more forceful, more aggressive and a lot more direct.
These are all the things you need to have to take on a Gerad Adams side.
To win a game in Cardiff you need to win a period; to win a period you need to win every shift; and to win a shift you need to win the individual battles in that shift.
Win the face off, win the battles on the boards, get the puck to the net and then in Cardiff, of all places, expect a war in front of their goal.
The Steelers have already shown that they are more than capable of doing just that. With what seems like a new level of confidence around the Steelers camp, anything is possible.
The Steelers have a special offer on tickets for the two home games at the Arena. If you come to Saturday’s game against Fife, you can buy a ticket for the Sunday game against Hull for just £5.
News out of the Arena is also good for the Steelers and their supporters; investment has been confirmed for many improvements, including seats, plexi and a general overhaul of the building for next season.
With the Steelers’ outstanding video wall scoreboard, it makes the viewing experience so much better.
For so long, the Steelers and the Arena didn’t work together. But at last, there seems to be co-operation, genuine efforts on both sides to assist one another in the difficult market conditions.
All in all, that means good news for fans, sponsors and the city as a whole. The Arena becomes a better place to visit.
So after a two week break, the Steelers are back at it for the final run in, the business end of the season.
This is where we find out more about the side, its character and, more than anything, its ability to deliver success. Three games in four days start today.
It may determine the season.
Go get them, boys.