It has been a long layoff and coach Mike McParland is hoping to get the rust off early as the Nipissing Lakers play a pair of contests over the weekend to officially start the 2013 portion of their schedule.
On Friday night, the Lakers host the Ryerson Rams at the Gardens and then travel east to Kingston to face the pesky Royal Military College Paladins on Saturday.
The Lakers start the new year looking to break out of a 4 game winless streak including a heart breaking 4-3 marathon shootout loss to the Ottawa Gee Gee's on December 1st, to close out the first half.
"We played okay in the first half but as a group I'd like to see the team bond and try to find itself and I think that will lead us to success," admitted head coach Mike McParland, who is hoping for a big and loud crowd to welcome back the Lakers to start the 2nd half.
"I think our strength in the second half could be our team play. We have worked hard individually but we have to work collectively better and more clever and if we are able to we could have a very strong 2nd half."
A pair of wins would be ideal for a Lakers squad (7-8-2) that sits 1 point up on Queen's (6-6-3), which has 2 games in hand on the Lakers.
While Conor O'Donnell leads the Lakers in scoring with 6 goals and 15 assists for 21 points, McParland is looking for more from his veterans.
"I'd like to see our returning forwards turn it up a notch," he said.
"We need more from our returnees as we they haven't filled the scoring void left with the departure of Dan Watt and Doug Clarkson."
However, top recruit Vern Cooper has been a pleasant surprise leading the team in goal scoring as a rookie with 8 goals and 7 helpers.
Forward Marcus Watson won't be helping the offence anytime soon. He is still nursing a lower body injury that will keep him out of the lineup until February.