North Ayrshire Wild face another difficult test on Saturday as they make the long trip north to play Aberdeen Lynx.
The fixture list hasn’t been kind to Wild, with four of their opening five games of the season pitching them against teams expected to challenge for the SNL title.
Last week’s performance offered some encouragement as Wild restricted free-scoring Dundee Comets to six goals.
Netminder John Russell admits it’s been a slow start for a team that has promoted a host of junior players up to the senior side this year.
“We haven’t had the easiest schedule, playing most of the top teams at the start, but there’s a good team spirit at the club,” said Russell.
“I think we were at least competitive in our first game against the Kilmarnock Storm, before the Edinburgh Capitals SNL showed their class home and away against us.
“Last Saturday against the Comets was a good performance. We knew everyone thought they were coming over to score double figures.
“To be going into the third period only 1-0 down and then just 2-0 down with ten minutes remaining showed this young team are up to the task in this league. With time and more experience this team has potential.
“This weekend I’m excited to play at Aberdeen – it’s my favourite game of the SNL season. All the fans that go to the games always makes the occasion very special.
“It’s another tough test for our team against another of the title favourites. We just want more of the same as we did against Dundee.
“As for the season, the league is clearly split into two classes. We want to at least be competitive for as long as we can against the big teams.
“When we play the teams outside this group, this is where we can compare ourselves and see where we stand.”
Aberdeen have started the season in impressive fashion, scoring 28 goals on their way to three victories.
Lynx boss Owen Reynolds is pleased with results so far, and believes his team will improve over the coming weeks.
“It’s not been too bad a start to the season despite missing a few key players in our opening fixtures,” said Reynolds.
“Moray away is always a tricky place to go, the long trip to Dumfries can often have an adverse effect on the legs and although we underperformed against Kilmarnock Thunder it was still good to register the win in our first home game.
“We realise the fixtures are only going to get tougher and we don’t underestimate anyone in the league.
“I’m sure that going by previous results we’ll be regarded as favourites against North Ayr, but we’ll treat this game no different to any other.
“From what I’ve heard John is finding some form in net and it took the Comets a while to break the Wild down, so we’ll not be taking anything for granted.
“We’re seeing some big numbers getting put up across the league, but I think this will settle as teams begin to find their feet.
“There’s no denying that the Comets are looking really strong this season, but then so are the Capitals and (Kirkaldy) Kestrels.
“I also can’t imagine a league where Paisley (Pirates) aren’t competitive once they get going. Every team is capable of a dip in form or causing an upset so it’ll be an interesting season.”
Aberdeen Lynx v North Ayrshire Wild
Moray Typhoons v Kilmarnock Thunder
Edinburgh Capitals SNL v Kirkcaldy Kestrels
Solway Stingrays v Kilmarnock Storm