Weekend Three of the Elite Ice Hockey League 2012-13 season throws up some tasty ties in the Gardiner Conference.
The Northern section, consisting of Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals, Fife Flyers and Hull Stingrays, may not have the same budget or clout as their colleagues in the Erhardt Conference (Belfast Giants, Sheffield Steelers, Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers), but they do have the fiery passion of getting themselves up for each and every Scottish Derby that will take place this season.
In each Conference, the teams will play one another four times at home and four times away over the course of the season, as well as playing the teams in the opposite conference twice home and twice away.
Mix in the Challenge Cup groups, and you have a huge number of games for every EIHL team to be concentrating on at various points in the season, and this weekend throws up a mix of all three competitions for our Scottish ice warriors.
On Saturday night, Richard Hartmann takes his Edinburgh Capitals down to Hull to face off against the Stingrays, who are the only non Scottish team in the Gardiner Conference.
It is the first of a double header between the two franchises this weekend, with the return game at Murrayfield Ice Arena on Sunday evening, with both sides eager to get their first points on the board for the season.
Former Caps Defenceman Tomas Valecko will be eager to impress for Hull against his former team mates and will want to keep out the ever dangerous Renee Jarolin over both nights.
Fife versus Dundee pits 1st versus 2nd in the Gardiner on Saturday night on Flyers home ice, as Todd Dutiaume's resurgent side look to capitalize on an impressive 5-1 win over division favourites Braehead Clan last weekend, with a win in the Challenge Cup.
Having vastly improved from last year, their first in the EIHL, the Flyers have proved to be the form team coming in to the season, having won the pre season Autumn Cup. Bryan Pitton looks to be the nettie to beat in the league for Fife in the early stages, having dug out 3 Man of the Match performances between the pipes already this season.
On Sunday, Pitton will be looking to shut out Coventry Blaze, as the Flyers welcome them to a North v South battle in the league.
Jeff Hutchins's Dundee Stars will be looking for a positive result, having gone down 2-1 to Belfast in their first full league match of the campaign on Thursday night, where AJ Mclean's first period goal wasn't enough to overpower last years EIHL champions. Their win over Hull last weekend was a vital early one, but they may find it a tad tougher in front of the Flyers boisterous fans.
On Sunday night the Stars play host to Braehead, who have won both their Challenge Cup games against Belfast and Cardiff, but have yet to get a W over any of their compatriots.
The defeat at Fife last week was a bitter pill to swallow for the Champions elect, after going down 4-3 to Edinburgh at Murrayfield a week earlier in the Challenge Cup.
With no home games until mid October, Jordan Krestanovich's side need to get to grips with their road games to cement their place as division favourites.
Still awaiting the return of the mercurial Jade Galbraith due to visa issues, Clan announced the signing of Finnish-Italian D-man, Pippo Limnell Finocchiaro, ahead of the weekend, filling the final import slot on the roster.
With this being a cup game, they will need to wait until they visit Hull for their next chance to put some points on the conference table.
Saturday Edinburgh Capitals @ Hull Stingrays (Conference), Dundee Stars @ Fife Flyers (Challenge Cup)
Sunday Hull Stingrays @ Edinburgh Capitals (Conference) , Braehead Clan @ Dundee Stars (Challenge Cup), Coventry @ Fife (Elite League)
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