Hockey returns to the Quad Cities this weekend. The Mallards will begin their 21st season overall, and 4th in the ECHL, with home games against Toledo and Tulsa.
For Phil Axtell, this will be his first full season as head coach after taking over from Terry Ruskowski halfway through last season. And he admits to being nervous.
"Terry would always say if you're not a little nervous then you're not ready. So yeah, a little bit."
And his main goal for the season, it sounds simple, is to make the playoffs.
"I just want to get better as the season goes on. I don't want to peak at Christmas or in February. I want to continually get better - as long as we're hitting our stride come playoffs."
Also excited about the new season is Mallards president and general manager, Bob McNamara. He thinks the new affiliations with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League and the newest NHL franchise, Las Vegas, will be great for the team and fans, and for the players.
"Knowing that the next level is in the American Hockey League with the Chicago Wolves, an amazing franchise - I think they've won 3 cups over the years. An opportunity to go up there, and the ultimate opportunity - to get to the NHL - I mean everybody strives for that."
Game 1 is against Toledo on Friday night at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline, followed by the Saturday night game, also at home, against Tulsa.