It is, in fact, only two games in a schedule that will feature 34 encounters, but a season-opening sweep of the North Bay Trappers was still a nice way to kickoff the 2012-2013 GNML campaign for coach Peter Michelutti Jr. and company.
After blasting the Trappers 12-0 a week ago Saturday, the Nickel Capital Wolves received much more push-back in the rematch on Wednesday, eventually pulling away in posting a 7-3 win.
A surprise team last spring in earning the right to represent Ontario at the Telus Cup despite not capturing their own league title, the Sudbury crew have reloaded for another run next spring, a realistic goal according to the man who has already been there twice in a relatively young coaching career.
"We have some new guys that have come in this year, bringing some different qualities than we had last year," Michelutti Jr. said. "We seem to move the puck a lot better on the back-end, we're a little more agile that way."
Most GNML observers concede, at this point, that Sudbury and the Soo appear, once again, to be the league front-runners, with Kapuskasing something of a darkhorse. Michelutti Jr. agrees, with a caveat.
"If we take things for granted, if we don't come out as strong, teams will be able to stay with us," he said. "We feel that we have the potential, that if we come out and play hard, we can be a strong team in this league."
And it's a team that just got a little stronger with the news that veteran forward Charlie Venedam has opted to rejoin the squad after initially signing on with the Elliot Lake Bobcats of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL).
The Sudbury crew is busy preparing for an early season test as the Wolves host the Soo North Stars tonight (Sept. 19) at 7:30 p.m. at the Countryside Arena.
Interestingly, the Nickel Capitals will also host a game on Manitoulin Island this year, battling the North Stars Oct. 20 at the Howland Arena in Little Current.
As for the Trappers, incoming head coach Mike Reise knew full well what the early part of his team's schedule might bring, kicking things off with four straight road games split evenly between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
The man who served as an assistant with John Couch the past few years is certainly undeterred.
"I love the team we've got right now," Reise said in Sudbury last Wednesday. "Our goal is to finish over .500. I don't want to say anything more than that right now until we see all the teams.
"As far as the league goes, we know that Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury are going to be strong," Reise added. "I don't know about the northern teams, but Kapuskasing has always got a hard, tough team."
As for the week ahead, the Wolves are looking at a stretch of four games in five nights, heading north on Friday to hook-up with New Liskeard, Kirkland Lake and Kapuskasing.
Meanwhile, the Nickel City Sons will take their 1-1 record on the road, heading west for a two-game set with the Soo North Stars.