The irony was not lost on Sheffield Steelers.
When they went off to claim third place in the prestige Continental Cup tournament in Belarus, they were third in the Elite League.
When they came back, they had dropped to fifth.
So last night's meeting with Guildford Flames was an opportunity to start making up the lost ground against a team one point and one place above them in the standings.
They had to do that without injured Robert Dowd and John Armstrong and the suspended Andreas Jamtin and Zack Fitzgerald.
Steelers had won their last four games but this was their first in the Arena of 2018.
Flames, with Steelers Play Off final double-goal scorer Geoff Walker, in their ranks, took the initiative at the beginning.
Yet sending troops forward back-fired and they conceded after 105 seconds, American winger Eric Neiley scoring on his home debut.
Guildford's defence led a charmed life on a penalty kill, but they frequently presented an offensive threat, Ervins Mustukovs denying Calle Ackered with his glove.
They just about deserved their equaliser, leading scorer John Dunbar making the most of Mustukovs lying prostate on the ice.
But Steelers ensured a first period lead, with Mathieu Roy scored while on his knees on the edge of the crease.
Guildford were overwhelmed in a nine minute spell in the middle session.
Roy came on as an extra skater on a delayed penalty and scored for 3-1.
Neiley was then fouled on a breakaway and on the Power Play Ben O'Connor scored to add to his two previous assists.
Liam Kirk punished Guildford further at 32;27.
Guildford reduced their arrears throgh Rhett Rachinski (power play) (Geoff Walker, Brett Ferguson) at 49:17.
Man of the match Neiley cross checked Tomas Nechala to earn a penalty and O'Connor had to block Kruise Reddick's shot on the line.
Suddenly Flames looked like they might be in revival mode with Walker burying an easy rebound for 5-3.
But Levi Nelson and Valdix took the game by the scruff of the neck and Sheffield were good value for a 7-3 final score which saw them leapfrog over Guildford.
Coach Paul Thompson said his team sat back a little when they had built up the score line.
"But we finished strong and we took the game away from them with the sixth goal.
"When you see who we have out of our line-up right now, that's a great win for us."
Saturday 20th January
Belfast Giants 7 Coventry Blaze 2
Braehead Clan 4 Edinburgh Capitals 3
Fife Flyers 6 Dundee Stars 7 (After Penalty Shootout)
Manchester Storm 3 Milton Keynes Lightning 1
Nottingham Panthers 6 Cardiff Devils 4
Sheffield Steelers 7 Guildford Flames 3
Sunday 21st January
Cardiff Devils v Fife Flyers - 6.00pm
Coventry Blaze v Manchester Storm - 5.15pm
Dundee Stars v Braehead Clan -6.30pm
Edinburgh Capitals v Sheffield Steelers - 6.00pm
Guildford Flames v Belfast Giants - 6.00pm
Milton Keynes Lightning v Nottingham Panthers - 5.30pm