Hull Pirates want to “set the tone” against Milton Keynes Lightning ahead of next Saturday’s season opener, according to general manager Andre Payette.

The reigning National One North treble champions already have two overtime victories against last season’s Southern treble champions Peterborough Phantoms under their belts. And buoyed by that success, they travel to Lightning tonight before welcoming the National League newcomers to Hull Arena tomorrow (5.30pm).

Milton Keynes have dropped down from the top-flight Elite League into the newly-created second tier and are expected to mount a strong challenge for silverware.

“They’ve come down from the Elite League so it’s a massive test for us this week,” Payette told Hull Live. “We’re playing them next Saturday in the league opener so we  want to set the tone.”

If this weekend is a repeat of last weekend’s opening challenge matches, fans are unlikely to leave either rink disappointed.

Despite there being nothing at stake in terms of points, Phantoms and Pirates produced anything but the usual pre-season friendlies in two penalty-packed encounters.

“I think Peterborough had said some stuff and some players said we were lucky to beat them in last season’s national play-off final,” Payette explained.

“I believe our guys really wanted to prove a point. That was why there was so much passion and it got a little bit rough. We have beaten them three times in overtime now, it’s got to be demoralising for them and uplifting for us.”

 

Payette insisted both performances have given rise to plenty of optimism that Pirates can start as they left off in 2018-19.

After a relatively undistinguished first three months last season, two new imports in Lubomir Korhon and Sonny Karlsson spearheaded the charge to silverware.

Pirates, along with the best teams from last year’s National One North and National One South, have joined forces to form a new National League.

The idea is to provide a more even competition and avoid the blow-outs that punctuated last season when the likes of the Pirates met the league’s weaker teams.

 

With Korhon and Karlsson departing, Pirates have signed veteran Peter Fabus and young winger Olegs Sislannikovs. Both impressed against Peterborough and look suitable replacements for last season’s popular and prolific import duo.

“Unfortunately our fans didn’t get to see Peter on Sunday. I feel he will be one of the best in the league, he will be great for us,” said Payette.

“He broke a skate blade and it was the one size we didn’t have in stock, it won’t happen again. However, he flew in Friday night and played Saturday. We didn’t get back until 1am, so maybe it wasn’t too bad for him not to play Sunday as well.

“Olegs has got a bit of a language problem, but I’m seeing him come out of his shell a little more every day.”